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Goldfein highlights professionalism, accomplishments of Airmen during trip to the Middle East, Southwest Asia

  • Published
  • By Charles Pope
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
No matter the year or circumstance, the Middle East and Southwest Asia are challenging places for Airmen deployed there.

Yet, during an extended trip to Jordan, Qatar, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan over the Christmas holiday, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein found another – but different – consistent truth: an unblinking focus on the mission coupled with dedication and professionalism.

“I saw total commitment to mission,” Goldfein said the day after returning from the 12-day trip. “I expected that because that is what the Air Force is and it’s how we always are. I also saw on-the-ground innovation that is central to who we are as an Air Force.

“I found master sergeants and tech sergeants finding ways to flatten the command structure so decisions could be made quicker,” Goldfein said. “I found that morale was high; I didn’t find any kind of wavering in terms of mission or purpose. It never ceases to impress me.”

Goldfein’s trip to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility was a mostly informative, rejuvenating trip that mixed high-level meetings with assorted senior government and military officials with face-to-face interactions with Airmen.

In Jordan, he met with King Adjullah, reaffirming the strong security cooperation that has defined the relationship between the two countries. His visit to Qatar included a meeting with the country’s armed forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ghanim bin Shaheen al-Ghanim, with whom he discussed a range of topics, including ways to maintain a partnership and strategic interests.

In Iraq, Goldfein held discussions with Air Force Lt. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera and Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, commander and deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve, and throughout many stops, he was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Joseph T. Guastella, AFCENT commander – a position Goldfein himself once held.

He was joined, as is often the case, by Chief Master Sgt of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright.

In broad strokes, the trip was similar to others he routinely takes to locations both domestic and foreign.

But this trip also was infused with additional features not always present. It came amid the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the decision by President Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan and a debate back home about the motives, meaning and consequences of those actions.

Even with those unexpected elements, the focus of the trip was primarily to see and recognize the efforts of Airmen and get a close-up view of their circumstances. At every location, Goldfein acknowledged outstanding performances by Airmen of all ranks.

While in Afghanistan, for example, he highlighted the contributions of security forces Airmen. He also spent time visiting the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, a joint unit that combines highly-trained pararescuemen with U.S. Army crews all transported in an Army CH-47 Chinook.

Throughout the trip, Goldfein encouraged Airmen to consider how they’ve helped shape the outlooks and security of their families and friends in the United States.

“Your families are waking up at home, celebrating the holidays with all their family traditions,” Goldfein said during the stop in Qatar.

“They’re also thinking about a lot of things like you, relatives, church, school, traffic and all those things that make up America,” he said. “But what they’re not thinking about right now is being attacked in their hometown. That’s not because there aren’t those out there who want to do just that. America sleeps pretty well at night because we don’t. Never underestimate the importance of your service in uniform, at this time, when our nation needs us most.”

Goldfein acknowledged, however, receiving occasional questions about the potential for policy changes affecting the Air Force’s mission and future operations in the two regions.

Goldfein was careful about predicting the changes and how they might affect Air Force operations.

Whatever is required, Goldfein said he has no doubt the Air Force will be ready and fully capable to meet the challenge and the mission.

That confidence is informed by Goldfein’s Air Force career, and now, reinforced by what he saw and heard on his most recent trip.