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18th AF CC visits Dover

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class James Bolinger
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Maj. Gen. James A. Hawkins toured Dover Air Force Base March 2.

While this was not the general's first visit to Dover, it was his first here as the 18th Air Force commander. "My dad was a Chaplain here in 1969 for his first assignment," said General Hawkins. "So, I was a freshman in college at the time. A lot has changed since then."

He made visits to several squadrons around base, including the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, to view the new building under construction, and the 436th Maintenance Squadron Isochronal Inspection Dock, to look at the Lean and Air Force Smart Operations 21 processes happening at the facility.

Another stop on his tour was the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. He had seen the old facility, but not the new one. "I was deeply honored to participate in a dignified transfer," he said. "I was greatly impressed with the professionalism of the people in both the 436th and 512th wings who honor our fallen comrades and their country."

The general also attended an Aircrew Call where he answered questions brought up by aircrew members, and spoke about the Aircraft Modernization Program and Reliability Enhancement Re-engineering Program, which are ongoing at Dover.

General Hawkins said he was blessed to have his wife, Linda Hawkins, with him on the trip.

Mrs. Hawkins' itinerary included the Child Development Center, Family Support Center and the Youth Center.

According to the general, he looked at the operational side and she looked at quality of life issues, allowing the two to cover twice the ground during their visit.

As the commander of the 18th Air Force, General Hawkins said he has a vision for the bases under his command.

"We will continue to prosecute the Global War on Terror," he said. "Our work never stops. We will support the warfighter and hopefully, one day, achieve victory.

"It took 40 years to win the Cold War," said General Hawkins. "The Cold War was my generation's time to fight. Now the time belongs to the young airmen and officers - the Global War on Terrorism is your war just the like the Cold War was ours."

He added that the 18th Air Force would be slightly smaller in five years than it is now.

"Today our active duty strength is approximately 54,000 men and women," he said. "The force will likely shrink to around 50,000 (in five years)."

Newer aircraft are also on the horizon for the next five years, he mentioned.

"We will have all of the 180 C-17s we ordered, we will also be taking on some C-130Js and be close to getting the KC-X, which will replace the KC-135," he said. "We will also be acquiring some (Joint Cargo Aircraft) which are twin engine planes for intra-theater airlift operations. (The JCA) is smaller than a C-130 and will hold 4-5 pallets."

According to the general, all of the force's C-5 Galaxy aircraft will have completed the Avionics Modernization Program and Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program.

"The (C-5) will be more effective and more reliable," he said.

The general added that both the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings took time out of their schedules to prepare for his visit.

"I tried to see the whole wing," said General Hawkins. "I visited different squadrons, but I also got to meet the people, which is also the most telling and the most fun. I would like to thank the dedicated professionals here who are serving their country."