Watching Washington’s back
How the Air Force watches the sheep among the wolves
“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. Then there are the wolves, and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Then there are the sheepdogs, and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army, retired, from his book “On Combat.”
defense structure and cooperation between agencies was identified. As most are aware, the Department of Homeland Security was created to address this need, but there was another major change to the defense structure that is less well-known: Joint Force Headquarters–National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR) was created.
Washington, D.C., as the nation’s capital, faces a myriad of unique challenges, ranging from the threat of potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and support to civil authorities. JFHQ-NCR was created to address and reduce this emerging threat and to provide a contingency response capability if needed and if called upon. The headquarters serves as a central point to coordinate and provide military capabilities to civil authorities should they be needed during an emergency response, and AFDW provides the Air Force component to this joint effort. To use Thomas Jefferson’s words, we are the eternally vigilant protecting the National Capital Region.
Day to day, the mission of AFDW is mostly administrative. As a Direct Reporting Unit, AFDW is similar to an Air Force Major Command, with our area of responsibility being the National Capital Region. In other words, airmen assigned to the National Capital Region, except those on the Air Staff in the Pentagon, look to us for administrative support. Additionally, we serve as the catch-all for airmen around the world whose mission does not naturally fit under a regional or functional Major Command. We provide legal, financial management, contracting, human resources, communications, security and safety, and logistical support for all of these airmen.
The AFDW team also includes the Air Force Honor Guard and Air Force Band. Through these units, AFDW supports daily full-honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery as well as special events, holidays and ceremonies that take place in the region.
Although these daily administrative and ceremonial missions keep us busy, we never forget our primary mission: contingency response. AFDW is constantly preparing, planning and practicing our response to an attack or natural disaster in the National Capital Region.
As the United States Air Force celebrates its 70th birthday this year, around the country we will honor this monumental event with open houses, air shows and demonstrations to highlight the innovation, teamwork and heritage of the greatest air force in the world. These events are fun, exciting and showcase some of the awesome missions of our Air Force. What you won’t see is the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes missions of the Air Force, like that of AFDW’s contingency response.
We hope that we will never be called upon to act, but rest assured that if we are, we will be ready. For those living and working in the National Capital Region, we’ve got your back. We’re here and ready to be your sheepdog.
— Although these daily administrative and ceremonial missions keep us busy, we never forget our primary mission: contingency response.