The state of the 166th Airlift Wing

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Feeley
  • Wing commander
We've read a lot in the local news media recently about some future possibilities for our wing's cyber mission and for our C-130H model aircraft. Inevitably there will be more reporting of local and national news for many months ahead as it relates to funding, choices and reactions.

A recent congressionally-directed report by the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force had some good news for the Air National Guard in their recommendations; we take heart in the quality of the report and hope decision makers heed the advice. You can read the report yourself at

In short, there is a lot of information out there, but rather than engage in speculation, I want to put some things into perspective. I want each Airman on this base, and your family, to have a good sense of what your leadership is thinking and doing as you perform your part in our mission.

The 166th Airlift Wing and the Delaware Air Guard are not going away.

We are secure in our mission sets for the time being, we expect and are planning for a steady state of operations, and there is no notice from higher HQ of imminent change.

Yes, there are budget issues that will impact our base in some way, shape and form in the years ahead. Federal spending on defense is no longer in the growth mode it was in the last decade. And, there is an ongoing national debate over what level of priority there will be for newer aircraft and upgrades to existing aircraft.

Your senior leadership, up through the adjutant general, are talking about these matters. And because we are part of a team, your governor and congressional delegation are also engaged.

However, know that our great C-130 mission continues, our aeromedical evacuation squadron still provides "The Best Care in the Air" as they bring home America's wounded heroes, and our network warfare squadron remains engaged in the cyber realm.

We will be tasked for a variety of missions in the years ahead, some predictable and some unpredictable. That is nothing new. Flexibility remains the key to airpower, and our Airmen and your leaders have grown to be pretty flexible.

I do want you to know that as an organization we have managed many similar issues before related to aircraft modernization and replacement, the potential loss of our aircraft fleet and base closure, and standing up new missions. We've also managed base infrastructure improvements and increased our overall end strength. We've managed these challenges successfully during times of war and times of peace.

Our hard work and our focus on the mission today is what gives me and your senior leadership a high level of confidence that we will once again be able to successfully meet any future challenges.

Every Airman has a critical Air Force Specialty Code, each job matters, you are important today and tomorrow, and we need you.

I expect each commander - from flight to group level - each officer, and each Airman - from E-1 to command chief - to remain fully engaged in our profession of arms. Apply the same diligence and excellence in the day-to-day results you achieve in your job that you and your fellow Airmen have so admirably exhibited for years.

This excellence in mission performance is the heritage of this unit, proven when our founders created this unit after bringing our nation to victory on two fronts in World War II. It has been reinforced in modern times with our wartime deployments of Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. Our heritage includes other contingency missions near and far, to include many humanitarian relief missions we've successfully conducted to assist the citizens of our state and nation.

Always remember to remain the great Airman Ambassadors to our community that you have been since our unit was founded in 1946.

As former commanders and unit Airmen made famous by word and by deed in decades past, "This unit has class." We are Delaware's Hometown Air Force, a contingent of fighting men and women closely connected to our local community, and who Fly, Fight and Win in Air, Space and Cyberspace.

Ours is a noble mission. We are a key part of the nation's defense outside the U.S., and serve our fellow citizens when natural disaster or other tragedy strikes at home. To say we are reliable, ready and relevant is not a slogan. It is for real. You have gained the right to feel pride in our track record of service to our state and nation.

Remember your fellow citizens, whose identity is unknown to you, who offer to pay for your cup of coffee before you realize it, and who speak those few heartfelt words, "I got this. Thank you for your service." Or the times when a stranger comes up to shake your hands, and says, "I just want to say thank you." Not many people in this great nation hear those words, but the two percent of us who wear our nation's uniform do hear them, and they are meaningful words from a grateful nation. They are spoken by our fellow citizens who recognize your value in their lives, and in the life of our nation.

Have I told you what a great job each of you are doing?

You are doing a great job. I notice it, and I also want you to notice it. We manage change, we develop our Airmen, we put Integrity First, we value Service before Self, and we strive to maintain Excellence in All We Do. We do this with, and because of, you. And we do it every day. And I sincerely thank you for your dedication to duty.

Your senior leaders have your backs; they are focused on the missions of today and those of tomorrow.

While we can't see the future, we are looking hard at our options, listening, collaborating, and trying to shape that future so that the Delaware Air Guard, and the 166th Airlift Wing, remains the viable, effective and proud organization it has been for the past 67 years. We want the Airmen of the Delaware Air Guard who serve here at the New Castle Air National Guard Base in 2046, a century after our founding, to be proud of the actions we all take in 2014 to execute our mission and plan for the future. Some of those future Airmen are indeed reading these words today, while in uniform on this base.

Remember that Delaware is the First State, and we honor our common heritage by action taken every single day by our newest Airman, all the way to our adjutant general and elected leadership, so that we will remain Delaware's Hometown Air Force.