WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – The National Guard’s senior federal officer stopped by Whiteman Air Force Base April 12 to see firsthand the total force integration model between the Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing and the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing.
Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with leaders from both wings to gain a greater understanding of Whiteman’s commitment to its strategic deterrence mission as the only operators of the Air Force’s B-2 Spirit fleet of long-range bombers.
The Guard general was provided a one-stop shop of the Total Air Force, meeting with active duty, Air National Guard members, Air Force Reservist and Air Force civilians who comprise Team Whiteman.
“When Gen. Lengyel’s team reached out originally, they said he wanted to see total force integration,“ said Col. Ken Eaves, 131st Bomb Wing commander. “Not only was he able to see TFI, he was able to see one of the best TFIs in the Air Force. And, after his visit, he agreed.”
In the Air Force, there are a few things you cannot do alone. It takes a team to accomplish Air Force missions. From dominating in air and space, defending multiple geographical regions to ensuring rapid global mobility and delivering global strike anywhere in the world.
Lengyel's visit took him to out of the way places on base, including the low-observable shop, where a team of Airmen ensure the B-2's exterior is always ready for any mission.
"Our shop did a great job of showcasing TFI to Gen. Lengyel," said Master Sgt. Ryan Kearfott, a signature diagnostics technician with the 131st Maintenance Squadron. "We had representation from the Guard, active duty and civilians at all levels, from maintainer through production manager. The team explained how they work together every day to accomplish the mission."
"Each entity is governed by slightly different rules and laws, and therefore has to leverage the strengths of each entity in different ways," Kearfott said.
It all comes down to teamwork and a commitment to the broader partnership.
“We were pleased to welcome Gen. Lengyel to Whiteman and highlight our partnership with the131st,” said Brig. Gen. John Nichols, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing. “Our TFI partnership is the gold standard in the United States Air Force.”
TFI aims to improve the Air Force’s ability to conduct its mission through the sharing of resources between the active duty and the reserve components, including aircraft, crews, maintenance and support.
“Team Whiteman continues to knock it out of the park and the message has now been delivered to our Joint Chiefs,” Eaves said.
All Airmen are committed to serving the nation and have to balance their family life with their military career. National Guard Airmen have the added challenge of maintaining that balance with a civilian career and being prepared to support the state during times of emergency. Through it all, Guard Airmen are trained to meet the Air Force standard to accomplish their federal missions.
“There is only one standard of readiness in fighting America’s wars,” Lengyel recently testified before Congress. “This readiness requires the National Guard to be deployable, sustainable and interoperable with our active components."