New leader, approach for 51st Fighter Wing
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The general who this week took command of the U.S. Air Force’s most forward-based fighter wing said he’ll encourage a mind-set in which his leaders keep alert to airmen’s well-being, especially that of younger airmen who may lack the normal supports of family.
Brig. Gen. Maurice H. Forsyth took the 51st Fighter Wing’s reins Monday, replacing Brig. Gen. William L. Holland, who moves soon to an assignment in the Middle East. The wing, nicknamed “The Mustangs,” is based 48 miles south of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.
“In one word, I’m looking for ‘leadership,’” Forsyth, a command pilot with more than 3,400 flight hours, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
He said he’ll also move to ensure the wing — F-16 fighters and A-10 attack planes — trains and stays equipped in ways matching the missions it might be assigned.
“That’s not just training,” said Forsyth, “but making sure that we have the equipment to accomplish those taskings … whether that be new munitions or new avionics,” electronics gear aboard aircraft.
Otherwise, he said, “The base as a whole, the wing as a whole, has been running great. I don’t see any need to change the operations piece of this anytime soon.”
Part of his emphasis on people will entail “making sure that we give our younger troops the resources to keep tabs on the folks at home, to have an outlet, if and when things at home aren’t going right,” said Forsyth. “Moreover, as the leadership, to be sensitive to their personal problems. … It has to be your Osan ‘family,’ your leadership here,” that helps airmen through.
For example, he said, an airman might not “know exactly where to go or where to ask” for help when facing a financial, medical or family problem.
“That’s where your teammates here can help you out,” he said. “It’s easier to talk with someone you work with every day and say … ‘What do I do?’… The leadership and the experience of, hopefully, your squadron, ought to help you out.”
His leadership philosophy, he said, calls for a central emphasis on both people and the unit’s mission.
“Most of what I do, I try to think about those two things,” Forsyth said. “How does whatever decision I make or whatever policy I make, affect the mission, and then hopefully everything I do” helps the unit’s people “and doesn’t hurt them.”
Forsyth, who entered the Air Force in 1978, previously commanded the Theater Air and Space-Operations Center of U.S. Air Forces Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He’s flown the F-4 Phantom, F-15 Eagle, AT-38B Talon and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in microbiology from South Dakota State University, a master’s degree in aviation and aerospace operations from Embry-Riddle University and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.