Military News

Friday, October 09, 2015

ACC director of operations joins RPA family

by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosine
49th Wing Public Affairs

10/7/2015 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- The Air Combat Command director of operations graduated from MQ-9 Reaper pilot training Sept. 15 from the 16th Training Squadron here.

Major Gen. Thomas Deale joined the Remotely Piloted Aircraft community after completing four weeks of rigorous training to become an RPA pilot.

"General Deale's decision to join the RPA Enterprise demonstrates the significant contribution Airmen in the MQ-1 and MQ-9 communities provide the Combatant Commanders," said Col. Robert Kiebler, the 49th Wing commander.

The decision was a change for the command pilot who had previously flown A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. For the general, however, this training was a "natural choice."

"I could fly anything," said Deale, who graduated from nearby Las Cruces High School. "But, there is no bigger weapon system in the Air Force than our RPAs."

As a senior leader of ACC and the highest ranking officer to become an RPA pilot, Deale felt his training not only empowered his flying career, but also gave him hands-on insight that will make him a better Air Force leader.

"When the ACC Director of Operations knows our capabilities, and our challenges, he can communicate effectively with everyone from the lowest ranking Airmen in the Enterprise to the Secretary of the Air Force," said Kiebler.

Armed with the training and know-how he received at Holloman, the director of operations hopes he will help the RPA community through many of its future challenges.

"We have talked a lot and identified a lot of challenges," Deale said. "But, we've now got to take those areas we have identified for improvement and turn the discussions we've had into actions. That is what we owe our Airmen."

Now part of the global RPA community, Deale also wants to make sure every RPA Airman knows the truth -- they are making a difference.

"Make no mistake," he said. "Holloman and our RPA community are making a difference around the world every single day. It is our most asked for capability, and it is the one that has no doubt impacted and allowed our service members abroad to be both mission successful and to get off the battlefield alive. I couldn't be prouder than to serve with the Airmen here."

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