|Zettler: Enduring Freedom is ‘2-5’ War|
Zettler: Enduring Freedom is ‘2-5’ War
By Tech. Sgt. Scott Elliott, Air Force Print News.
Washington D.C. -- (AFPN) April 25, 2002 -- After visiting Operation Enduring Freedom forward locations, the Air Force’s senior logistician is convinced the fight against terrorism is a two-through-five war.
"The Air Force in the war zone is running on two-through-five," said Lt. Gen. Michael E. Zettler, deputy chief of staff for installation and logistics at the Pentagon. "By that I mean airmen first class through technical sergeants who are superbly doing their jobs, minute by minute, without asking why or what’s next. They’re just doing the jobs that come to them.
"They are," he said, "the absolute muscle of this Air Force."
That is not to say the general is overlooking the contributions of the more senior ranks.
"We have great senior (non-commissioned officers) providing strong technical guidance, and fantastic junior officers who are leading and learning about being expeditionary," he said. "But when it comes to doing the day-to-day work of making water available, providing meals, making fuel available, repairing aircraft or providing communications, making things move, deploying forward parts or providing force protection –- that’s two through five."
Working conditions are long and challenging, but not impossible, he added.
"We have some airmen out there on the frontier of the planet -- in places such as Afghanistan," he said, "(They are) in tents without air conditioning or heaters, without daily showers and eating a mix of meals ready-to-eat and unit group rations. It doesn’t seem to make any difference which of the extremes they’re operating in. Our people are doing great work."
In one example, the general had the chance to observe a 180-hour maintenance inspection of a new Predator aircraft.
"We watched a staff sergeant crew chief, with assistance from other technicians, disassemble the Predator right before our eyes," he said. "It was a 24-hour (job), but they thought they could do it two-thirds the time -– and I believed them because I was watching (it happen) right before my eyes."
But, the general said, Air Force leaders are not taking such contributions for granted.
"Our force (has been) extremely professional in accepting the charge the president gave them –- to prosecute the mission for as long as (they are) asked to," Zettler said. "(We ask them to) trust us that we’re working the (deployment) rotations. Trust us that we’re trying to resource them properly. Trust us that we’ll keep them informed. They carry out the mission. Universally they understand that, and they have not backed away from their end of the bargain by one iota.
"At the same time, we have to continue the full-court press (by) Air Force leadership to provide a viable rotation base, so there is light at the end of the tunnel, that each increment that goes forward will be rotated out," he said.
Rotation schedules sometimes vary by Air Force specialty code but, in general, plans are for deployments to remain within the aerospace expeditionary force construct.
"We’re trying to make it better; trying to make it more definitive," the general said.
Besides communicating deployment rotation information with airmen in the field, Zettler wants off-base communities to hear about the contributions made by America’s airmen.
"The outside community needs to understand what airmen have brought to this fight…how difficult it’s been, but how easy they have made it look," he said. "The two-through-five are really doing a fantastic job."