Fightin' Fifty-Fifth welcomes new wing commander

OFFUTT AFB, Neb. -- Command of the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth changed hands for the fifty-sixth time Wednesday as Col. James Jones accepted the wing guidon from Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, 8th Air Force Commander, in a ceremony at the Bennie Davis Maintenance Facility here.

With the words, "Sir, I assume command," Colonel Jones assumed the responsibility of leading Air Combat Command's largest and most heavily tasked wing.

General Elder, back-dropped by a large American flag and static displays of various 55th Wing aircraft visible to those in attendance, lauded the accomplishments of the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth under the tenure of its outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Jonathan George.

"The 55th Wing earned the Meritorious Unit Award for the second time in two years ... flew more than 10,000 sorties, accumulating more than 60,000 flight hours while maintaining a 97-percent maintenance effectiveness rate ... and marked 6,000 continuous days of presence in the Southwest Asia area of responsibility," said General Elder.

Colonel Jones used his first appearance before the wing to make note that the men and women of the 55th Wing are providing world-class intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic attack and command and control to national leadership and warfighting commanders 24/7, 365 days a year around the globe.

To maintain and continue the legacy of excellence the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth is known for, Colonel Jones outlined four key topics that will keep the 55th Wing as the tip of our nation's spear.
"We have to be prepared to meet our senior leaders' objectives across the entire spectrum of conflict wherever and whenever we're needed. To meet that objective I'm going to ask you to focus on four simple things ... mission readiness, an expeditionary mindset, teamwork and sustainability," said the 55th Wing Commander.

During his remarks, Colonel Jones emphasized the importance of teamwork in order to accomplish the mission of defending the nation's freedom.

"The success of the 55th Wing cannot and will not be measured on the individual level. We must leverage the strength of the Total Force assets to include our Air National Guard and Reserve partners," Colonel Jones said. "Every resource in this wing, whether it's an aircraft, a piece of aerospace ground equipment, a vehicle, the communication network, support infrastructure or the individual Airman, is vital to the success of this organization," he continued.

The new 55th Wing commander acknowledged that challenges lay ahead for the men and women of the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth, but he balanced those with straight-forward determination.
"We all know the challenges associated with force reductions, fiscal constraints, aging infrastructure and increasing mission demands as we continue to meet our nation's taskings. Significant challenges? You bet. Insurmountable? Absolutely not. Not with the talent that's in this wing," said Colonel Jones.

General Jonathan George's next assignment has him leaving America's Heartland to become the deputy commanding general, Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan, Political-Military, U.S. Central Command, in Kabul, Afghanistan.