Army general reflects on ISIS annihilation with RPA Airmen

By Airman 1st Class Haley Stevens 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, commanding general, visited Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 10, 2018.

Funk was the commanding general of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve for U.S. Central Command.

This visit was an opportunity for Funk to meet with the Airmen who fly, maintain and support the MQ-9 Reapers that have been saving the lives of ground troops since the start of OIR in June 2014.

“Having been the commander of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Funk. “I found that the role of Remotely Piloted (Aircraft) is actually to provide reconnaissance and to provide attack capability to the ground forces commander to help (them) either see the battlefield better or shape the battlefield with fire.”

With almost 5,000 airstrikes provided by RPAs in support of ground forces during OIR, Funk worked closely with MQ-9 Airmen over the four-year operation.

“The Airmen here at the 432nd Wing are performing in combat 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” said Col. Julian Cheater, 432nd WG/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “The Hunters have played a key role in Operation Inherent Resolve by providing persistent attack and reconnaissance capabilities to our combatant commanders. Having those leaders, such as Lt. Gen. Funk, speak with our Airmen allows them to better understand their impact in the fight overseas.”

While visiting Creech, Funk gained a better understanding of how 432nd WG Airmen support the RPA mission in operations such as Enduring Freedom and OIR, he also shared some of his combat experiences while in command of OIR.

Funk brought a collection of photographs of Iraq, Syria, and the people he encountered while in those countries. When showing the destruction left in the wake of ISIS, Funk explained violent extremist organizations’ impact on innocent civilians and gave thanks to RPA Airmen for their contribution to defeating the enemy.

The U.S. joint and coalition forces have liberated approximately 8 million people from ISIS control, Funk explained, “You did that.”

“To the men and women of the RPA enterprise, I came up here to Creech to say thank you,” Funk stated. “Thanks for your commitment to excellence, thank you for what you do today to protect the men and women of the joint force and allow them the ability to go that last 100 meters… from a ground guy to those of you in the air, thanks for what you do.”

Visits from leaders such as Funk provide an opportunity for better integration in the joint and coalition multirole fight, a chance for Creech Airmen to hear why they are vital to various missions and how they save the lives of U.S. and coalition forces on the battlefield.