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Counterdrug commander hits the ground running

CAMP MABRY, Texas -- Almost immediately following an overseas deployment, he took command and shared his organizational philosophy with his subordinates.
     Col. Tony West assumed command of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force on March 1, only two months after returning from an overseas deployment that, in his words, was "the best job in the AOR [Area of Responsibility]."
     He served as the Air Reserve Component Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) Air Forces and reported to Deputy Combined Force Air Component Commander (DCFACC) Maj. Gen. Maurice Forsyth. 

 Q: I am sure that this simple statement hides a myriad of duties. Please explain what a day in the life of Colonel West looked like overseas.
A: Admittedly it was very exciting and dealt with a host of issues. We visited seven countries and talked to deployed Air National Guard (ANG), Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) members, and field commanders in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Q: Can you share some of the issues you addressed?
A: Mostly I would advise the Air Reserve Component members on deployed benefits, pay, how their orders work as well as an occasional disciplinary matter. Usually the active component commanders would be happy we were there and let us handle Guard and Reserve-unique matters. 

Q: I am sure there was the occasional obligatory meeting. Can you share what was discussed?
A: The DCFACC, as the air component commander for USCENTCOM, held at least daily meetings for updates on our war efforts from a "combined air" perspective. Twice weekly there were meetings that summarized the war progress to date - I learned a lot from them. What I took away from this experience from a Texas Air National Guard perspective is that our transformational missions are on track. In the AOR now, space, ISR
[intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], information superiority, and battlefield Airmen are making a huge impact on our success today and improving the doctrine on how we will fight tomorrow.
Our new Predator (unmanned aerial vehicle), ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System), manned ISR, intelligence, and information operations will keep us a relevant force well into the future. 

Q: What surprised you most during your deployment?
A: It was not so much a surprise as a confirmation that the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve perform best when they are deployed together in larger packages.