Watch­ing Wash­ing­ton’s back

How the Air Force watches the sheep among the wolves

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Dar­ryl W. Burke Dar­ryl W. Burke, a U.S. Air Force ma­jor gen­eral, is com­man­der of the Air Force District of Wash­ing­ton.

“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.

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