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COMACC outlines top priorities

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- General Ronald Keys, Air Combat Command commander, is meeting with more than 150 of ACC's senior leader this week at Offutt. 

Among the general's priorities to be discussed at this year's ACC Commanders' Conference are taking care of people, focusing on expeditionary operations, recapitalization, organization and transformation. 

Taking care of people is "Job #1" according to General Keys. 

"We have to stay focused on our Airmen and be aware of the stresses on the force," he said. "We have to recruit the right people, train them properly to go into harm's way and when they come home, we reintegrate them into the force. Just as important while our Airmen are deployed is to take care of their families." 

With properly trained Airmen, the Air Force can focus on "Job #2" - being ready to engage adversaries at any time, anywhere in the world.

"We have thinking adversaries out there changing the way they operate," he explained. "We need to take our lessons learned and learn them fast, learn them just once and implement them. We've got to take the battle rhythm of the Air Force and make it run to the battle rhythm of the expeditionary operations." 

The Air Force can't be effective in expeditionary operations without recapitalization of its fleet. 

"We can take our old aircraft and make them do wonderful things but one of my jobs is to put forward the argument that our F-15s, F-16s and B-1s were bought in the 1970s," General Keys said. "They've have done a wonderful job for the last 30 years but they will not be able to do it for the next 30 years. We need retire older, less capable aircraft to recapitalize and remain relevant in the future." 

Aircraft aren't the only things the Air Force is looking at updating. 

"There's a lot of reorganization going on in the Air Force," he said. "As you get smaller, you need to look at different ways of operating. We've got to stand up new organizations such as the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., which put all our unmanned aerial vehicles under an operational wing. This lets our UAV operators focus on warfighting. Another example will be the creation of another major command, dealing strictly with cyber capabilities, which will focus and coordinate our attack and defense capabilities on various nets." 

These reorganizations reinforce the fact that the Air Force is an adaptive force ready to embrace innovations to transform it to remain the premiere air and space force in the world. 

"Transformation is really a way of approaching things with a 'what if" attitude," he said. "When you look at the Air Force, we started with two brothers in a bicycle shop who asked, "What if?" and the result was the airplane. Transformation is not just about discovering fire. In some cases, it's just a better way of using fire. 

"These are the things I'll be talking about here with my commanders," the general said. "When I sit down with them, I want an exchange. It's not just me telling them this is what's going on, they tell me what's not working or what's working really well. The strength of Air Combat Command is our ability to take one bright idea and give it to 25 wings and make a really big impact where we once had just one local bright idea."