Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, visits with members of the 314th Airlift Wing Aug. 27 in the 62nd Airlift Squadron auditorium. General Lorenz performed a one hour Q-and-A session with military members in attendance ranging from airmen to colonels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Willis)
Col. Mark Czelusta (left), 314th Airlift Wing commander, welcomes Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, Aug. 27 at the Little Rock Air Force Base flightline. The 314th AW was among several of the AETC bases General Lorenz is visiting before his retirement later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Willis)
by Capt. Joe Knable
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/1/2010 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, the parent command of the 314th Airlift Wing, the C-130 Center of Excellence, visited here Aug. 27.
General Lorenz, who leads the Air Force command that trains nearly 340,000 students per year, discussed key issues with wing leaders and spent time with Little Rock Airmen one last time before his upcoming retirement.
After meeting briefly with leaders from the 314th Airlift Wing, the largest C-130 training wing in the world, the Air National Guard's 189th Airlift Wing and Air Mobility Command's 19th Airlift Wing, General Lorenz addressed an auditorium packed with 314th AW and 189th AW Airmen. There he fielded candid questions and shared with passion and humor topics ranging from the Air Force budget, to the base's new Air Force Reserve unit, to new PT standards.
"It's great to be here at 'The Rock,'" he said. "I appreciate all the things you do."
The visit came just one week after Colonel Mark G. Czelusta assumed command of the 314th AW.
"I was impressed with his understanding of the C-130 community," Colonel Czelusta said. "The crowd appreciated his candor and I appreciated his optimism."
Speaking from four years experience as the director of the Air Force budget, General Lorenz explained how the budget has been consistently rising since 2001, but leaders are facing new challenges now that the budget has leveled off.
"Are there going to be challenging times? Yes, but will we make it! Yes. Will you still produce students? Yes," he said.
Being in the C-130 community, which has an open assembly line of J-models, is a great place to be, he added, and the training opportunities continue to expand. "There are people standing in line to get C-130 training here at the Rock: internationals, active duty, guard, Reserve."
General Lorenz addressed the challenges of training all three Air Force components-- active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve-- as well as coalition partners from 38 nations. He also addressed changing models and changing dynamics on base with the Reserve standing up a new unit to take over legacy H-model training.
"Those are issues where we all have to work together as a team toward a common goal and objective of continuing the legacy and tradition of 'The Rock' being the center of excellence for all C-130 training in the world," he said.
"Everything in life is about balancing shortfalls - you never have enough time, money or manpower," he added. "There are only two ways to take on any issue: efficiency and effectiveness." As Airmen face these challenges and the high operations tempo, the general encouraged them to draw courage from generations past, such as Americans fighting in World War II.
"They made it. If they made it, we'll make it...," he said. "Your generation has challenges. The World War Two generation left and went off to war for three years. We don't do it that way anymore." Today's Airmen change assignments every three years or so while at the same time deploying back-and-forth to combat zones. The general continued, "this generation -- the people sitting in this room -- is the next greatest generation."
"This is an enlisted people's war," he added. While the Air Force has traditionally sent its officers off to war, the majority of deployed Airmen today are enlisted. The mission requires a "team effort" from both enlisted and commissioned active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen.
After General Lorenz explained how changes in Iraq and Afghanistan might affect Air Force deployments -- expect deployments to continue -- he explained why certain manpower programs are necessary to bring the Air Force end-strength to within Congressionally mandated limits (one percent of 332,000.)
An Airman asked his opinion on the new fitness standards. The general encouraged all Airmen to meet the new challenge head-on. "There are going to be people who aren't moving fast enough. Move faster. Train. You know what I was doing at six o'clock this morning before I got up here? I went to the gym and I worked out. I try to get to the gym every day I can and I'm 58 years old."
For the final question, the general addressed the growing cyber threats and challenges he has tackled in his commands - challenges that the young Airmen in the room will continue to fight.
"Do you know that when I took over [at AETC], there were no patches on the commander of AETC's computer?" he explained. "I have to live under the exact same standards that you live under so I understand what's going on. Leaders should never ask people to do something they're not willing to do themselves."
The general left his audience with encouragement.
"Always remember this ... we are so blessed," he said. "We are the military of a democracy. We swear allegiance to precious ideas on a piece of paper called the Constitution. I cannot believe every day I get to wake up and go to work and hang out with people like you, and serve an institution bigger than myself. This is not about me -- this is not about you -- this about us and the nation."
"And you are training internationals and guard and Reserve and active-duty people all over the world because you are the center of excellence on C-130s and nobody in the world does it better."
General Lorenz' official biography can be found at www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=6234. You can also visit AETC on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AirEducationandTrainingCommand.