Friday, August 13, 2010

TOP STORY > >Wing boss given new challenge Wing boss given new challenge

Leader senior staff writer

When Col. C.K. Hyde relinquishes command of the 314th Air Education Wing to Col. Mark Czelusta on Aug. 20, he’s headed to Randolph Air Force Base at San Antonio, where he will serve as deputy director of intelligence, operations and nuclear integration for flying training.

Czelusta, who was previously posted at Little Rock Air Force Base, most recently was the commander of the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group. He leads a team of approximately 190 airmen providing combat airlift, airborne electronic attack and operations support capabilities for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

“Czelusta will make a great member of Team Little Rock Family,” Hyde predicted.

He said his successor will face great challenges, but “I couldn’t be more confident, and I’m glad to hand off to a great combat warrior like Mark Czelusta.

“The center of tactical airlift is Little Rock Air Force Base,” Hyde said Thursday. “This is corporate headquarters for tactical combat delivery.

“The 314th has a great legacy of combat,” said Hyde, and the wing teaches C-130 airmen to “fly, fight and win.”

Every combat delivery mission traces back to the 314th Air Education and Training Wing, which trains the crews and maintainers of virtually all U.S. military C-130s and those of most allies, including 38 countries.

And be-cause of the training at Little Rock, the C-130s respond to humanitarian crises like nobody else.

For his new job, he’ll oversee air education and training “in pretty much every weapons system that we own. We do survival training. We do training for our missile crews. We do training for our special operations forces, for our fighter forces, for our mobility forces. My job will be looking over that vast enterprise of training that our Air Force needs to sustain the forces that we have and bring on line the training that we need for the future force structure that our nation is investing in,” Hyde said.

“We will be training to be successful against thinking and adaptive enemies — thinking and looking ahead, making sure our training meets the war-fighter needs.

“I’m excited about getting there and being a part of that enterprise. My job will be the flying-training portion, just what I’ve done here, but here I’ve had one small portion, the C-130 flying portion,” the colonel said.

At Randolph, he’ll be involved in all of the flying training, “making sure that it’s modern, that it’s relevant and that it delivers the capacity that we need to meet the demands of our current and future wars.”

The amount of training in recent years has doubled, Hyde said.

The nature of the training has changed because both the new and revamped aircraft and today’s recruits are different. “We excel at modern and relevant training,” he said. “Recruits are still patriotic, but they are part of the digital generation.”

Modern training takes advantage of that technology, Hyde said.

Technology has taken some of the training out of the planes and put it in flight simulators, saving the Air Force about $17 million a year.

As the number of state-of-the-art C-130Js assigned to the 314th doubles from seven to 14 by 2015, the Air Force Reserve and the National Guard will train airmen on legacy C-130Hs and the “new” C-130AMP, legacy planes remade with digital cockpits nearly identical to the C-130.

AMP stands for aviation- modernization program, and it changes legacy C-130 cockpits from analog to digital, with modern navigation and communication like that on the C-130Js.

The mission for training always changes as aircraft fleets change and as requirements change. The Air Force is increasing the J-model fleet significantly over the next five years.

Most of the active-duty operational forces will transition to J-models. That mission is rapidly growing, and the 314th will train exclusively for C-130Js.

Demand has increased for the capability for that airframe and its crews, according to the colonel.

“Our legacy fleet is gradually converting to the AMP configuration. The majority will be in reserve component,” he explained.

Legacy training—including the AMP planes—will transition to Reserve and National Guard, Hyde said.

The goal is to do this with no decrease in quality, or quantity, to support the operational forces and the air fighting commanders.

“The family all enjoyed the base and the community,” he said, noting that the community was very supportive of the base and airmen and “embraced and welcomed us and we made some life-long friends here.”

“The community here goes the extra mile,” Hyde said, “to build relationships that last beyond the assignments here.

“C-130 people love coming here,” he said. “It’s coming back to family.”

He said he had enjoyed getting out and seeing the parks and natural attractions in Arkansas. His older son, Robert, just graduated from North Pulaski High School as its salutatorian and is a cadet at West Point this fall.

His other son, George, has had a positive experience here as well, he said.

“The 314th’s missions and airmen have done great things for our Air Force,” Hyde said. The 314th and the 189th Air Wing of the Arkansas National Guard have provided the best C-130 training in the world and the partnership has been “one of the great things about the command,” he said.

He said those two wings had “a laser-like focus on the training mission. Warfare is always a team effort.”

Although here for only about two years, Hyde has served with three commanders of the Air Mobility Wing here—Brig. Gen.

Rowayne Schatz, Col. Greg Otey and the Col. Mike Minihan, who just took command of the 19th Airlift Wing on Aug. 2.

Hyde’s new job “is making sure we take advantage of the vast combat experience that our Air Force has. We’re the most combat-experienced force in the Air Force probably since World War II.

“I’ll be overseeing it all and working at the integration of it. It’s a big job,” he said, but “I’ll have a lot of help.”