Director of the Air National Guard visits Illinois Units
By 2nd Lt. Shane P. Hill, 182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 08, 2013
PEORIA, Ill. -- Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, Director of the Air National Guard, visited the three operational wings of the Illinois Air National Guard located throughout the state, during a two day visit to Illinois that began Sept. 7.
The director made the trip as part of his initiative to get out to operational ANG units and interact with airmen to gain their standpoint on issues related to the force.
"The opportunity for me to get outside the Pentagon and actually visit with the Air National Guard is important to me as a Director of the Air National Guard," said Clarke. "When I work with the Air Force on issues concerning the total force, particularly as it applies to the Air National Guard, it is important for me to have the perspectives of the commanders, supervisors, first sergeants, and airman themselves, that are actually in the Air National Guard out in the states."
Clarke began his trip at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, visiting the 126th Air Refueling Wing. He then visited the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, Illinois, followed by the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Illinois. During his trip, the general explained that the visits help him place emotion behind ANG initiatives and the reaction of airmen.
"Obviously with eye-to-eye contact you can carry on a conversation as opposed to having an electronic chat... and actually having follow-up questions with an emotional perspective (is important). You can tell more when you actually get to visit units and members, and tell the morale of the unit, how proud they are of what they do. And that's important for me to understand where the unit is with regard to morale."
During his visit, each unit had an opportunity to demonstrate their morale by showcasing what each unit is capable of doing. The 182nd Airlift Wing, like the other Illinois units, was able to demonstrate many of their multiple mission capabilities in a static display that included many first responder duties for the unit. The demonstration included hazardous material (HAZMAT) response operations and a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosive (CBRNE) enhanced response force package, also known as CERFP.
Through the demonstrations and interactions with airmen in operations, Clarke stated that the dedication that Illinois Air National Guardsmen have to their mission is clear.
"My assessment of the Illinois Air National Guard is that they meet the pillars that I set forth for the total force, and that is that we must meet the same standards, for the total force, we have to take the same inspections, and we have to be operationally engaged..." said Clarke. "I would tell you every wing that I visited in here Illinois; it proved that they are doing that; meeting standards, taking inspections, doing an outstanding job in all of the inspections, and clearly exceeding them in many cases."
Following his visit to Illinois Air National Guard Units, Clarke went on to visit the Wisconsin Air National Guard as well. Before leaving to continue his trip, Clarke made it clear that it up to each airman to continue helping to tell the story of what he witnessed on his visit to Illinois.
"I would say continue your service to the state and the nation, and continue to be proud airman, and share that with others. Not just others in the guard but share it with people outside. (Tell people) how much it means to you as an individual to be a part of the Air National Guard and the Air Force... that you look to forward to further service to them overseas or something at home the Governor might ask you to do," said Clarke.