BAGHDAD – Service members and contractors participated in an all-hands meeting with the commander of the U.S. Air Force Central Command at Forward Operating Base Union III Aug. 17.
Lt. Gen. David L. Goldfein, a native of Texas and commander of U.S. Air Force Central Command engaged in a discussion regarding the AFCENT mission and priorities in Iraq.
Topics of discussion included the duration of deployment, transition of mission and the impending budget cuts.
“I would plan on whatever timeline you were given when deployed, and I would set the expectation at home with your family,” Goldfein advised when asked about the lengths of deployment for airmen. “We are going to need you for every day of your deployment.”
Planning for future operations is planning around change, said Goldfein. A high level discussion is ongoing about the duration of overseas deployments.
After a few questions from those in attendance, Goldfein asked one airman,“What is one of the frustrations you find in the transition effort?”
The airman’s concern was the cultural differences between the U.S. and Iraqi counterparts, as well as training the Iraqis air force on the same tasks week after week.
“It is hard to think through this problem with another cultural perspective,” said Goldfein in response. “We don’t want the Iraqi air force to mirror the U.S. Air Force. We need the Iraqi air force to work for them, with their culture and their way of approaching business that is effective for this region.”
This mission is to help Iraq protect its borders and its sovereignty, said Goldfein.
When asked about the impending budget cuts, Goldfein answered that he is a firm believer that every challenge creates opportunity
“Money is going to drive us to be more efficient and more effective,” said Goldfein. “We are forced to focus on being more-credible, more-viable and more-capable of an asset.”
To conclude, Golfein encouraged the service members and contractors to concentrate on taking care of one another and acting as family.
“In the services, we are a family. We do look out for one another,” said Goldfein. “At the end of the day, we will emerge on a higher plane.”