by April McDonald
Tinker Public Affairs
5/1/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, OKLA. -- U.S.
Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, took
time to meet with Airmen of the 552nd Air Control Wing last week.
"I needed to come out and see the Airmen, and see what I can do to help
them," Carlisle said last week, following his first visit to Tinker Air
Force Base since taking over as commander of ACC last November.
After his visit April 21-22, the General admitted how impressed he was
with the 552nd ACW and the professionals who carry out its important
"(The E-3 'Sentry' Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft) AWACS
is engaged everywhere in the world," he said. "They're usually the first
ones there in any kind of challenging environment and they're the last
ones to leave. They're critical to our success."
General Carlisle added that being able to command and control aircraft
is essential to the nation's ability to quickly and effectively react to
"The first two things you have to do in any campaign anywhere are to be
able to command and control and you have to gain and maintain air
superiority," he said. "Both of those functions require the E-3."
Though AWACS have been deployed continuously to the Middle East for the
last 24 years, the fleet still faces the challenge of operating in a
fiscally constrained environment.
Carlisle said he's the last person in the world who wants to lose any
AWACS, but if the Budget Control Act remains in effect, it will happen.
"We have to balance across the Air Force in everything we do," he said.
"And in many areas I'm responsible for - command and control;
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, bombers and fighters -- I
don't have enough resources in any of those areas. I have to take some
assets out of every one to balance and give the most capability I can
with the amount of money Congress gives us."
Right now, any decision on reducing the AWACS fleet has been delayed
until 2019. General Carlisle said if the BCA law is changed or if world
events change, there are opportunities for leaders to revisit that
"It's not that we want to do it," he said. "But we have to balance.
Every area in the Air Force under the BCA takes a cut, every single
The general said leaders must still make other "incredibly difficult
decisions that will affect families." Those decisions include the size
of the Air Force and the size of the civilian workforce that supports
Other decisions like future procurement programs and current platforms
also need to be decided. Though the Air Force is the smallest it's ever
been, General Carlisle said he would rather have less capacity than a
"I want whatever I have to be trained, ready and modernized to be the
best force we can have for the amount of resources the American people
give us," he said.