Commander of the 18th Air Force Visits Channel Islands Published June 6, 2013 By Master Sgt. Dave Buttner 146th Airlift Wing CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. -- Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, commander of the 18th Air Force, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., recently traveled west to meet with Airmen of the California Air National Guard, May 9-10. His visit began with a 146th Airlift Wing C-130 flight alongside Wing Commander Col. Paul Hargrove and Vice Commander Lt. Col. Brian Kelly to Chico Municipal Airport. There, McDew visited the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's tanker base and observed fire retardant reloading pit operations. He and his staff also observed a Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) training mission firsthand, including a water drop in the mountains near Chico. "The general was able to see a wide cross-section of aerial firefighting, assets and employment techniques," said Lt. Col. Bryan Allen, MAFFS pilot. "He seemed quite impressed by how an aircraft as large as the C-130 fits into the firefighting battle plan." McDew praised the MAFFS crew, noting "[they] made a very complex scenario look easy." During his visit, the general met with the wing's command staff to discuss current budget issues and future total force integration plans and hosted an "all call" briefing in the wing auditorium to hear what was on the minds of Airmen. The discussion covered a variety of topics, including the budget, professionalism, and respect. The general also visited Airmen at work centers throughout the wing, including Base Operations, Security Forces, the Propulsion Shop, the 562nd Air Force Band, and Medical Group facilities. "This was a great opportunity to show him our mission and it gave Gen. McDew great context in which to make decisions for total force integration," said Kelly.