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Future of Tennessee Air Guard discussed amongst state’s senior leaders

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Holmes, the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, poses for his official photo in January 2019 at Joint Force Headquarters, Nashville, Tennessee.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Holmes, the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, poses for his official photo in January 2019 at Joint Force Headquarters, Nashville, Tennessee. Holmes highlighted a summit of Tennessee Air National Guard leadership, where he outlined his priorities, and listened to challenges facing the Air Guard. (Courtesy photo from the Tennessee Department of the Military)

Nashville, Tenn. -- A two-day summit including Tennessee Air National Guard senior leaders, from the state’s adjutant general (TAG) down to the group level, was held January 28-29, 2019 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base in Nashville, Tennessee.

The summit aided the TAG and the Air Guard in gaining a better knowledge of each other’s priorities and goals.

“My job over the next four to six months is to understand what actions I need to take to support our units in their mission,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Holmes, the state’s new adjutant general. “In order to do that I have to understand their challenges.”

“This gave the group commanders and group chiefs the opportunity to talk to the TAG about issues very specific to the 134th [Air Refueling Wing], the 118th [Wing], and the 164th [Airlift Wing],” said Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Williams, the 118th Wing command chief. “Now we have another level of continuity all the way down to the group level. That will pay off huge dividends.”

Holmes said with this improved insight, he will be able to enact one of his main priorities: having units get out of their stovepipes and train with their sister service in the state, the Army National Guard.

“I’ve seen units that would have benefited by working with another unit, whether it be Army or Air, and they pass each other in the night,” said Holmes. “All it takes is somebody above them, that has the visibility to see what those units are doing, and present that opportunity to bring them together.”

Holmes said another key priority is for the work done by guardsmen to be recognized.

“I think that our citizens need to be cognizant of what their friends, neighbors, sons and daughters are doing every day to protect their freedoms,” said Holmes. “It’s easy for the one percent of those that are serving to be overlooked.”

Holmes’ message was well received by Air Guard leaders, who have already begun enacting his vision.

Col. Sam Keener, commander of the 218th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group, said he welcomed the idea of joint training, and has invited an Army intelligence company to drill and train with them.

Col. Lawana Nelson, commander of the 118th Mission Support Group, said she plans to have a squadron under her command, the 118th Civil Engineer Squadron, train with the Army’s 230th Sustainment Brigade in an upcoming exercise to transport generators. She also visited a local non-profit organization to explore volunteer opportunities in the community with her Airmen.

Holmes earned a great deal of respect simply by listening to leaders and presenting them with goals.

“His attitude, demeanor and leadership style is refreshing,” said Nelson. “It gives a bright future to the Tennessee National Guard as a whole to have a leader this approachable.”           
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