316th Wing expands the AFDW

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen
  • AFDW commander
I am delighted to have the honor and privilege to welcome Col. Paul Ackerley and the rest of the members of the 316th Wing into the Air Force District of Washington's rapidly expanded family.

On behalf of your teammates at the 11th Wing at Bolling, the 79th Medical Wing at Andrews AFB, and the newly redesignated Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency at Bolling, you bring the concluding piece to fulfill a new vision for the role of the Air Force in the nation's capital and the surrounding region.

This final AFDW stand-up has turned into a reality with hard work by many dedicated people. Why did everyone do this so quickly, some may ask?

Take a moment to reflect on the events that took place September 11, 2001, and it is easy to realize the United States began to identify what the global war on terrorism was going to require in terms of protecting our country and especially our Capitol, which has become a symbol of democracy and freedom for many countries of the world.

Because so many lives were tragically lost that day when we watched the cowardice and treachery that is fundamental to the terrorist ideology, our senior civilian and military leadership took positive steps immediately to change the way we do our defense business, not only in our nation's capital, but around the world.

That's the day when we began to prepare for something we hope will never happen again. Fortunately, our determination, steadfast commitment and our active responses have kept these evildoers away and on the run. But vigilance is something we must maintain now and in the future, and it's got to be strong.

In order to be effective, our efforts must be built on a foundation of partnerships, effective communications, an unquestionable commitment to the mission and a focus that includes an innovative and creative use of our combined assets.

AFDW is aligned under Headquarters Air Force as a direct-reporting unit, much like the 11th Wing used to be, and has assumed a far broader and complex role in the management of Air Force people and infrastructure in the National Capital Region as well as continuing to provide the extraordinary ceremonial support to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense and the White House.

Our intent is to provide seamless execution of Air Force missions in the NCR while also providing efficiencies across the various Air Force installations in the NCR that consolidation allows.

To fulfill AFDWs joint mission in the National Capital Region, another organization stood up concurrently to serve as the Air Force component to the Joint Task Force Headquarters along with our counterparts at the Military District of Washington, the Naval District of Washington and the U.S. Marine Corps District of Washington. Collectively, this team reports to the combatant command responsible for continental defense as a whole -- U.S. Northern Command.

Our relatively small organization is known by the acronym AFNCR, or Air Force National Capitol Region, and is responsible for the warfighting functions such as maintaining situational awareness, planning, exercising and contingency response in the NCR.

The stand-up of AFNCR is consistent with the warfighting construct the chief of staff of the Air Force envisioned and approved last year. AFDW was the first organization to stand up under that construct.

AFDW is the umbrella organization that has administrative control of AFNCR. There is one combined A-staff for both organizations with many individuals holding key positions on both staffs. For example, I am the commander for AFDW in my day-to-day role organizing, training and equipping, while also serving as a joint commander supporting the broad operational mission for the AFNCR component.

In everything we do, we seek to address efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs. More than ever, we seek creative solutions to effectively get the mission done even better now that we're all under one command. We will team to make fiscally responsible decisions that will enhance our strength and capabilities despite force reductions and new concepts such as joint basing. Together, we have a much better chance of surviving these changes than we would as separate units.

Change is both inevitable and an integral part of our process to keep improving. I am confident that the new AFDW team and the joint capability it represents will make a huge difference in the National Capital Region. As proud members of a new warfighting headquarters, the professional and dedicated members of AFDW will continue to do their best work in our special area of responsibility. We are especially proud to be here in our nation's capital, where we have the important job protecting the leadership, heritage and history that surrounds us and belongs to all Americans and those who cherish freedom.