Eighth Air Force Commander visits his airmen at Whiteman

Senior Airman Anthony M. Bailey, a combat arms instructor assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, familiarizes Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, with the M320 grenade launcher.

Senior Airman Anthony M. Bailey, a combat arms instructor assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, familiarizes Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, with the M320 grenade launcher on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins spent time with the SFS airmen during a three-day visit to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, addresses his audience during an all-call formation,

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, addresses his audience during an all-call formation on Oct. 23, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins spent three days visiting the base, gaining face time Team Whiteman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, speaks to members of Team Whiteman during an all-call formation.

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, speaks to members of Team Whiteman during an all-call formation on Oct. 23, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins took the opportunity to recognize the contributions of the 509th Bomb Wing and to answer questions during a Q-and-A forum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Miller, assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, shows an anti-drone computer program to Maj. Gen. James c. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander.

Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Miller, assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, shows an anti-drone computer program to Maj. Gen. James c. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Miller and other members of the 509th SFS demonstrated the security capabilities of the base to the general during his three-day visit to the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, learns about anti-drone technology from Master Sgt. Christopher S. Camara.

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, learns about anti-drone technology on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Master Sgt. Christopher S. Camara, Weapons System Security NCOIC, and other SFS members led the general through the live demonstration during his three-day visit to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Christopher J. Button, commander of the 509th Medical Group mental health flight, briefs Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr.

Maj. Christopher J. Button, commander of the 509th Medical Group mental health flight, briefs Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr. on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins toured the medical clinic to learn about the support services available to Team Whiteman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, and Brig. Gen. John J. Nichols, 509th Bomb Wing commander, stack against a shoot house wall during a room-clearing demonstration.

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, and Brig. Gen. John J. Nichols, 509th Bomb Wing commander, stack against a shoothouse wall on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins spent time with the 509th Security Forces Squadron during his three-day visit to the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Master Sgt. Christopher S. Camara, Weapons System Security NCOIC assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, uses a remote controller and cellphone to control a drone.

Master Sgt. Christopher S. Camara, Weapons System Security NCOIC assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, uses a remote controller and cellphone to control a drone on Oct. 23, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Camara and other SFS members demonstrated their anti-drone capabilities to Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins, the Eighth Air Force commander during his visit to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, tours the Welcome Center with his wife Daina.

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins Jr., Eighth Air Force commander, tours the Welcome Center with his wife Daina on Oct. 22, 2018 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Dawkins learned about the 60-minute in-processing that newcomers go through upon arrival to the base and had the opportunity to engage with the airmen who facilitate that process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Maj. Gen. James C. Dawkins, Jr., Eighth Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, visited Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Oct. 22-23, 2018.

                               

Dawkins, a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, has been stationed across the country and internationally. He has filled a variety of command and strategic roles, including 13th Bomb Squadron director of operations, 509th Operations Group commander and 509th Bomb Wing vice commander .

                               

“I never thought I would come back as the Eighth Air Force commander, that’s for sure,” said Dawkins, laughing warmly, during an interview at Missions End. “To come back and have the bomber units on my team is incredible. It’s both an honor and privilege to command ‘The Mighty Eighth’. I couldn’t be happier.”

                               

Dawkins and his wife, Daina, visited the base with Chief Master Sgt. Shelley R. Cohen, the Eighth Air Force IMA command chief.

                               

“I wanted to see how the Airmen were preparing for the high-end fight,” said Dawkins, during an interview. “I wanted to see what advances have been made, what updates to policies and procedures have been put in place since I was stationed here seven years ago.”

                               

During the visit, the general received mission briefings and toured a B-2 Stealth Bomber and its training simulator. He also spent time with each group on base to learn about how they contribute to the overall mission.

                               

Dawkins spent a couple of hours with members of the 509th Security Forces Squadron. He toured the shooting ranges on base, firing both a shotgun and a grenade launcher.

                               

He also learned about and practiced room-clearing procedures, dressing in protective gear with Brig. Gen. John J. Nichols, the 509th BW commander, by his side.

                               

Members of the SFS then performed a live demonstration with the base’s counter-drone technology.

                               

“It has been great to come back and see what progress has been made on this base, preparing for any adversary we might face,” Dawkins said.

                               

He highlighted the wing’s accomplishments to include approximately 6,500 flying hours, reduced planning time for successful missions, new modifications to the B-2 and overall completion of backlogged required maintenance.

                               

“It speaks volumes of the base’s ability to come together,” he said.

                               

Hundreds of Airmen from Whiteman deployed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, in support of U.S. Strategic Command. The total-force integration deployment challenged active-duty and Guard units to collaborate in air operations tactics and hot-pit refueling of the B-2, during which the aircraft is refueled while engines are still running.

                               

“What’s great about that initiative was the opportunity to get into that expeditionary mindset,” said Dawkins. “It allowed for us to learn how to operate in a new location while keeping the enemy on its toes.”

                               

Dawkins led an all-call assembly with members of the base to recognize them for their contributions and to discuss the future of their mission.

                               

“I think they’ll rise to any challenge that presents itself,” he said. “Whether it is high-intensity or prolonged conflict, or an unexpected maintenance issue, Whiteman will shine.”