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18th Air Force leaders visit McConnell

  • Published
  • By Airman Brenden Beezley
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Eighteenth Air Force leaders visited the 22nd Air Refueling Wing here, Jan. 18-19, 2022, to see first-hand the hard work and innovation of Team McConnell’s Airmen.

Upon arriving at McConnell, Maj. Gen. Thad Bibb, 18th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Chad Bickley, 18th Air Force command chief, were greeted by 22nd Air Refueling Wing leadership and spent their two days visiting a wide range of units and sections including the KC-46 simulator, 344th Air Refueling Squadron, and the Security Forces Squadron kennel, where they witnessed hard-charging solutions in preparation for the high-end fight.

“On the maintenance side, whether it’s on the Pegasus or the KC-135 tanker, you guys have the best numbers in the 18th Air Force, of all 12 wings. For those two weapon systems, you guys lead the way.” Said Bibb.

“You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing. Colonel Vogel and his team have the accelerator going,” said Bickley. “I hear you’re going out in the field and setting tents up, and that may suck but that's exactly where you need to be at. Train the way we fight; fight the way we train.”

During their visit, the duo took a moment to hear about some of the work McConnell Airmen have been doing. General Bibb recognized and coined nine star performers from units across McConnell.

“What an honor it is to be a part of this team,” he said. “You guys have completely blown away the Chief and I over the last two days. We’ve been watching McConnell for a long time and seeing what you do to deploy, seeing how you’re changing things at the garrison, seeing how you’re innovative, seeing your motivation, and seeing you work in a dynamic environment is just incredible.”

As Air Mobility Command’s sole numbered air force, 18th Air Force ensures readiness and sustainment of approximately 36,000 active duty, Air Force Reserve and civilian Airmen at 12 Wings and one stand-alone Group. McConnell is home to more than 4,500 of those Airmen and is paving the path forward for the US Air Force’s next refueling platform, the KC-46.

“On the KC-46 side, when you’re first you get to set the standard for the rest of the Air Force and other nations to follow, and you’ve done that.” said Bibb, “We’ve taken the KC-46 from just being able to get it flying safely to being a weapon for combat deployment.”