Patriot Wing faces a year of change in 2014

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Steven Vautrain
  • Commander, 439th Airlift Wing
2014 has been a year of change for the Patriot Wing. We have changed command chiefs, we are changing vice commanders, and more than likely we will be changing commanders later this year.

We recently received confirmation that NMCB-27 (the Navy Seabees) will leave Westover for Mississippi in October; most of them are already gone. All of this, on top of the news that we will be losing eight airplanes and 334 people, has made this another difficult year. Westover and the 439th AW will survive these changes.

Many of us are not happy with change, but it is a fact of life. Those that try to cling to the status quo are usually left behind, while those that adapt to change are able to survive. Unfortunately some of our friends will need to retrain, transfer, or retire, but the vast majority of them will remain in the Patriot Wing and continue to be part of the best team in the Air Force.

The failure of the Maginot Line at the beginning of World War II is a prime example of catastrophic failure to adapt. When the French built the extensive (and expensive) fortifications, they did not anticipate the speed and maneuverability of the rebuilt German Army. The defensive line was circumvented in a matter of days and Paris fell within six weeks.

The United States Air Force cannot afford to rest on its laurels and rely on its own Maginot Line; it must adapt to a changing environment in order to remain relevant and defend our nation. The increase in emphasis on remotely piloted aircraft and Cyberwar has necessitated the restructuring of the force and a change in priorities. The Patriot Wing is trying to leverage our proximity to the technology center that surrounds Boston, but we have had no luck so far. We will continue to work toward that goal.

We are fortunate that our strategic airlift and agile combat support missions will remain essential to the defense of our nation. The reduction in the size of the US military makes rapid global mobility, aeromedical evacuation, airbase defense, civil engineering, and many of our other missions crucial to future plans. We have the luxury of retaining our primary mission while other units are being eliminated or completely revamped to new missions.

Westover and the 439th AW have survived many changes before and will survive these latest changes. The most important thing to remember is that we are a team and we must work together to successfully adapt to the new defense environment. I am certain that the Patriot Wing is up to the challenge.