Adapting to Change, Embracing Progress

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeff Gustafson
  • 33d Fighter Wing Vice Commander
Change is everywhere in our world today. We see and experience change throughout the Air Force, embracing it with new ideas and processes like AFSO21 (Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century) and ORM (Operational Risk Management). 

The 33d Fighter Wing "NOMADS" are actively engaged with progress at Eglin AFB. The CSAF-directed wing reorganization, F-15C drawdown, slow housing markets, higher gas prices, TDYs in non-traditional roles, and short notice PCSs are just a few changes on the menu today. For those out there who fear change or shy away from the difficulties created by new ideas, I challenge you to watch and learn as your supervisors, peers and subordinates search out new solutions and smarter methods to meet the change and accomplish the mission. 

The Nomads are about to see the most significant and dramatic change in the 33d FW's 67-year history -- 43 year of that history taking place at Eglin AFB -- as the wing transitions from an Air Combat Command F-15C air superiority wing to the Air Education and Training Command Integrated Training Center (ITC) for the AF's new 5th generation, multi-role Joint Strike Fighter (JSF - the F35). In July of this year, the Eagle jets begin departing Eglin AFB for new homes throughout the CAF simultaneously with the reorganization of the operations and maintenance under the Combat Wing construct. Both changes are good for our Air Force's future but not without second and third order effects. 

Many Nomads will move to new assignments around the world over the upcoming year and a half, while some will remain here on the Emerald Coast. These changes will undoubtedly cause uneasy feelings for many, highlighting personal, family and professional challenges that may seem insurmountable alone. However, the opportunities will also be abundant and every Nomad must remember that you are not alone and we are all changing and embracing progress together. Nearly every Airman, their families and many friends in the local community, will be touched by the upcoming change as Eglin AFB sets the stage for the JSF and continued recapitalization of our Air Force's aging fleet of aircraft. You can't remain the best with old technology, old equipment or out-dated ways of thinking. 

With the closing of the F-15C air superiority chapter at the 33d FW, a new and exciting chapter begins with the JSF ITC that will propel our AF into the future. The Nomads have made history in WWII with 126.5 aerial victories, in Vietnam with the first Tactical Air Command (TAC) unit to down an enemy MiG fighter and in the Gulf War with the most combat kills of any allied unit with 16 aerial victories. Now the Nomads will create history with the stand up of the JSF ITC. This change will allow the Nomads to train the next generation fighter pilots and maintainers who will brand the JSF onto the world map as the most precise and lethal weapons system known to mankind. If that's not change in the direction of progress, I don't know what is. 

Change happens and change will continue to happen so long as we strive to be the best. Each Nomad will be faced with personal and professional challenges and opportunities over this next year and a half. As people, we tend to be resistant to change, but as Americans in order to maintain our world status as the most respected, admired, and feared Air Force we must change and embrace's our only option!