ELLINGTON FIELD JOINT RESERVE BASE --
“Now is the time to turn our focus on what comes next for the 147th Attack Wing,” said Col Matthew Barker, the 147th Attack Wing commander. “We’ve had Texas Airmen at Ellington Field for 102 years, so Chief Zelezniak and I’s job is to make sure we have Texas Airmen here for another 102 years taking care of the missions our state and nation need us to.”
Col Barker has operated over five weapon systems during his tenure with the Air Force. Some of those platforms no longer exist, which he said underscores the need to keep the focal points on the airmen and the affect, not the equipment.
Chief Master Sgt. Walter Zelezniak, the 147th Attack Wing Command Chief said when senior leadership mulls over future missions, they don’t just look at platforms, they also look at the spirit and expertise of Texas Airmen. The challenge for Col Barker and Chief Zelezniak is to use strategic thinking to envisage future operating weapon systems in 10-15 years against adversaries we haven’t faced before.
“We have to look at not only the future weapon systems we could be asked to employ, but how are we going to employ our current weapon system in different operational environments with a different set of tactical challenges,” said Col Barker.
Over the past two years, the 147th Attack Wing converted the MQ1 Predator to the MQ9 Reaper based on the needs of the Air Force. Now that this conversion is complete, the focus looks forward to the next obstacle and ensures that we stay ahead of our enemies in preparedness.
The focus on “Future Missions” demonstrates how ready the 147th is to meet any challenge. Being prepared for the unknown is what this focus is all about. It takes an incredible amount of imagination and flexibility to prepare for challenges that lie in the future. Being able to adapt our weapon systems to new and changing environments is key to success.
“So when we look at future missions, we can’t just limit it to what we have been comfortable doing for a long time,” said Col Barker. “We have to be ready for what the nation is going to need us to do in a more demanding environment in the years ahead.”
Due to the wing’s successful history of strategically implementing cutting-edge technologies, Ellington Field would be a great basing option for newer aircraft like the F-35, according to senior leaders. Another exciting future plausibility, Ellington Field could eventually become home to a guard component of the Space Force. Senior leaders said this is because of Texas Airmen’s expertise, the infrastructure at Ellington Field, and its proximity to NASA facilities.
Innovation is another critical facet of Future Missions. For over a century the 147th has been committed to staying on top of its game and learning from past experiences. Because the very nature of Future Missions means you don’t know what is around the next corner, we must to the changing operational environment and develop innovative ways to prepare for the future.
“We are an innovative culture; America is a country where we are always looking for the next great thing,” said Chief Zelezniak. “So I think the idea of just thinking about the future, thinking about how airmen here at the 147th can adapt and innovate into the next role, whatever that may be, allows the Air National Guard to be great, the wing to be great and to meet all the military’s needs.”