TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
On June 30, Col. David Gaedecke will relinquish command of the 552nd Air Control Wing to Col. Geoffrey Weiss. After serving at Tinker for two years, the colonel will head to the Pentagon where he will become the Director, Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration, Office of Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer. He will also pin on Brigadier General.
Colonel Gaedecke took time out from getting ready to depart Tinker to remark on his time here at Tinker as commander of America’s Wing.
Tinker Take Off: What were some of the challenges you faced when you took command of the 552nd Air Control Wing?
Gaedecke: “The 552nd ACW has always been a wing that rises to challenges and succeeds, so many of our obstacles were overcome without any visible signs of churn. As an example, we’ve been responsible to support many test functions for both of our wing’s weapons systems, the E-3 AWACS and the Control and Reporting Center’s TYQ-23A Mission Operating System. Though we are not resourced for test activities as an operational combat wing, we continually get both missions done… preparing and training for combat ops, while supporting test activities with our operational aircraft. Similarly, our Host Wing isn’t resourced to accomplish its mission on its own and as the largest uniformed military organization on base, the men and women of the 552nd ACW balance its operational duties to support the base as the largest group of manpower behind big events like the recent Tinker Air Show.”
TTO: During your tenure as commander, what have been some of the biggest accomplishments of the Wing?
Gaedecke: “The wing accomplished many historic firsts over the past two years. We deployed our Block 40/45 E-3G to combat in the Air Force Central Command Area of Responsibility for the first time. We gained and integrated the 436th Training Squadron at Dyess AFB, Texas, into our wing. The first glass cockpit E-3G arrived at Tinker in January 2017 and we’ve supported multiple other modernization programs for the E-3 as well. Additionally, our Air Control Squadron at Mountain Home AFB accomplished the historic short-notice Deployed Radar deployment comprised of 458 short tons and more than 50 Airmen, providing an additional 181,000 square miles of coverage for AFCENT from United States Air Force’s Europe AOR. We earned engineering and flight approval to create, install and fly the first ever 3D printed part on an U.S.A.F. aircraft, the E-3 AWACS. We also graduated the first students for the new Air Battle Manager CRC Initial Qualification Training course at Tinker AFB, while our Air Control Squadron at Hill AFB accepted the first ever CRC OM Modification (TYQ-23A). The list goes on and on.”
TTO: As you look back over your time here as commander, what has impressed you the most about the men and women assigned to the 552nd ACW?
Gaedecke: “I have been most impressed by the innovation of our Airmen and their ability to get the job done and make it look easy. When you don’t have enough resources for the mission, you have to work smarter and our 552nd Airmen have done exactly that. With process improvements and aircraft part fabrication, as well as new crew concepts to optimize operations for our crews in the CRCs and AWACS. The amount of talent in the 552nd ACW is nothing short of astonishing.”
TTO: Looking into the future, what do you see as the main challenges for the 552nd ACW?
Gaedecke: “With the multiple modifications to both our wing’s weapons systems, the E-3 AWACS and the CRC’s TYQ-23A, balancing test needs and operational requirements will be challenging without a dedicated test platform. Both weapon systems will also be challenged with manning in the future due to premature cuts to the accession and training pipelines for our Air Battle Managers and enlisted aviators.”
TTO: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to your successor?
Gaedecke: “He’s an outstanding officer and leader, so I know he’ll succeed by just being himself.”