Getting Personal: In charge of Lakenheath’s future
UK weekly edition, Wenesday, August 1, 2007
Brig. Gen. John W. Hesterman III is a veteran aviator now in command of the 48th Fighter Wing, the largest U.S. Air Force wing in the United Kingdom.
Stars and Stripes met with the second highest ranking Air Force officer in the U.K. just weeks into his new post to chat about the future of the Air Force and his hopes for RAF Lakenheath.
You left here nearly 10 years ago as a squadron commander and returned as a wing commander. What has changed about this installation since your last tour? There have been some changes in the base, but what interests me is what hasn’t changed, and that’s the tempo. We are as busy as ever. And what also hasn’t changed is our relationship with our hosts. It’s as strong as ever.
The Air Force is in the midst of massive changes with both the move to slice tens of thousands from the rolls and the ongoing efforts to increase efficiency. Where is this all going? The Air Force is changing, but it still has important priorities, one of which is recapitalization of our force. As Americans, we can clearly afford any defense we want, but we have to fight agendas with a lot of other important causes in America. We have to be prepared to become more efficient, to do more with less and to make the sacrifices the country needs.
You’ve flown some of the most advanced aircraft on Earth, including the F-15 and F-16. Do you have a favorite? It’s probably the one I am flying now. It’s hard to beat the F-15. I flew one last night for about 1½-hour sortie.
This entire Smart Ops 21 process seems to becoming more pervasive with each passing day. What can airmen do here on RAF Lakenheath to take part? When I was a young airman, if you had a good idea you were told to wait your turn. Now we are hunting for good ideas. If you have a good idea, take it up the chain of command.
As a general, what advice do you give young airmen hoping to make a career out of the Air Force and wanting to achieve a similar level of success? The best employees at the top corporations have a balance in their lives. It’s the ones who have reasonable hours and families and outside interests that perform the best.