Modernizing airframe, divesting

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Chief Master Sgt. Brett Prothe, Air Mobility Command refueling career field functional manager, visited Travis AFB, Sept. 21 – 24, to discuss with Airmen the divestment plan of the KC-10 Extender and the personnel who man the aircraft.

As the Air Force works toward modernizing its airframe, Prothe said it is crucial Airmen understand the situation at hand.

The KC-46A Pegasus is slated to arrive at Travis AFB August 2023 – which is why the divestment plan for all KC-10 personnel is Prothe’s and Air Force leadership’s priority.

“We will not succeed against a well-resourced and strategic competitor if we insist on keeping every legacy system we have,” said Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force, in an article released Sept. 20, 2021, by Andrew Clevenger, Roll Call staff member. “Our team cannot win its one fight to deter China or Russia without the resources we need and willingness to balance risk today to avoid much greater risk in the future.”

To counter adversaries, Kendall included the A-10 Warthogs, C-130 transports, KC-10 tankers and MQ-9 Reaper among those legacy systems eyed for retirement in favor of more modernized airframes.

“We are an evolving force comprised of Airmen who are ready for tomorrow’s fight,” Prothe said. “As the next generation of refueling aircraft begins operating within our inventory, we require Airmen who will meet this challenge with the sort of gusto needed to remain the world’s best Air Force.”

Senior Master Sgt. James Cain, 9th Air Refueling Squadron superintendent, explained the influx of the KC-46 is primed to be the culmination and testament of the professionalism and experience that has often become synonymous with the crews of the KC-10.

“We stand today at the threshold of a new frontier for aviation,” Cain said.
“The question, then, becomes a personal one: Do you want to be a part of it?”

Cain went on to reinforce the idea of the Air Force as a unified team with a common purpose instead of a disjointed collection of rigid mindsets.

“At some point in your career, either from the day you sign up or at your first reenlistment, you decide that the Air Force is my career, not my AFSC,” said Cain. “I will go do what the Air Force needs me to do because I believe in what we do.”

However, Cain acknowledged not everyone might not have the same view point as him.

“The Air Force is big and sometimes it seems that we are just cogs in the machine,” said Cain. “If you don’t understand the vector or trajectory of the machine, ask questions. We all process information differently and it’s imperative that Airmen know they are valued. We are a team.”

Cain emphasized how important that Airmen know resources available to them, especially in regards to the KC-10 divestment efforts.

“Whether you’re a first-term Airman or a seasoned one, don’t forget about the professional and private organizations on base that allow you to grow,” said Cain.

Through the Career Assistance Advisor to Airman and Family Readiness Center, there are many resources that Airmen can utilize.