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552nd ACW vice leaves Tinker for Germany

Col. Scott Forest is all smiles after his final flight as the 552nd Air Control Wing vice commander. (Air Force photo)

Col. Scott Forest is all smiles after his final flight as the 552nd Air Control Wing vice commander. (Air Force photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla -- When Col. Scott Forest, 552nd Air Control Wing vice commander, arrived at Tinker in May 2009, he began an assignment completely different in tasking and geography than his previous post at the Pentagon. Although this is Colonel Forest's second assignment here, he said his experiences at Tinker have taught him more than he expected as his role of vice commander.

"The most valuable thing I have learned is how amazing Airmen can be," Colonel Forest said. "When great Airmen team together, we can accomplish anything. That goes for any organization you work in, but I got to see that first hand here."

Colonel Forest is headed to Ramstein AB, Germany, to become the 3rd Air Force, air, space and information operations director, which he said will be a bridge between the execution level and higher headquarters functions. He said he is looking forward to living in Germany again and working for the only numbered Air Force in all of Europe. His new area of operation will cover eastern Russia to South Africa, including the civil revolutions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

"I will be able to take that firsthand observation and experience I learned at Tinker of how Airmen get things done every day and relay that to a broader Air Force picture in Germany," Colonel Forest said. "It will be beneficial to leave with a hands-on feel of every day execution of airpower capabilities. On a personal level, it has been fun seeing up close and personal the practice with the tactics and the operational level improvements we have had to make."

Since his arrival at Tinker, Colonel Forest said there are many team accomplishments he is proud to be part of, including supporting Operation Enduring Freedom by doubling coverage time in theatre, covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, responding to and overcoming the challenges of a failed operational readiness inspection and overcoming adversity to pass the succeeding inspection, and responding to the air craft crashing at Nellis AFB, shortly after assuming his position in 2009.

"As a vice wing commander, you don't have accomplishments except for what the wing or team does as a whole," Colonel Forest said. "Working with the Airmen to face and overcome the challenges set before us, and in some cases the adversity we found ourselves in, and facing the challenge and overcoming the adversity."

Working with a "dream team" of senior leadership and staff is one thing Colonel Forest said he values and hopes Col. Thomas Engle, Colonel Forest's successor, utilizes the exemplary personnel in the wing and across the base.

"Tinker is able to posture and respond to the nation's calls for security, air power and capabilities we bring to the joint force because of how the senior leaders exhibit themselves every day," he said. "I will take with me an inspiration of how amazing the airmen in America's wing are and how they continually answered the call and made the mission happen."

To the Airmen he leaves behind at Tinker, Colonel Forest stresses the need to continually "drill and maintain basics." He also said he encourages Airmen to concentrate on being great wingmen to each other, and to remember the mission cannot be accomplished without working with the person in the foxhole next to you.

"We have a paradigm in the Air Force where sometimes we say "back to basics." he said. "I'm a proponent of preventing yourself from ever having to say that you need to go back to the basics. If you feel like you are at the position where you have forgotten about the basics, you've probably gotten a bit too far from the basics.

"We don't accomplish anything here individually," he added. "We accomplish the mission by working with the person sitting in the foxhole next to us, our wingmen, and helping them achieve success and be better at their jobs. If you focus on that, great things happen to the individual and the team. We all get the mission done when we think about those things."

Colonel Forest said he is grateful for the surrounding Oklahoma City community, specifically Del City, who took the 552nd under their wing as an adopted unit. He and his wife hail from the Midwest, and he said Oklahoma has felt like home in terms of the friendly people and a focus on a simpler life. The notorious Oklahoma weather will not be missed as much as the Airmen and peers he worked with on a daily basis, he added.

"I now consider many people in the local community as friends that I never had prior to being in this role," he said. "Through our civic outreach programs, getting to meet them and how they support the base and wing everyday has been a real treasure. The wing has accomplished amazing things and their dedication to the Air Force has been inspiring. It has been a pleasure to serve them while they served our country."