Eielson supports visit from Secretary of State

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brent Sheehan, the 354th Fighter Wing command chief, left, Col. Todd Robbins, the 354th FW vice commander and Col. David Mineau, the 354th FW commander, stand at attention as the Secretary of State’s plane arrives May 10, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed at Eielson on his way to the 10th Annual Arctic Council Ministerial, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brent Sheehan, the 354th Fighter Wing command chief, left, Col. Todd Robbins, the 354th FW vice commander and Col. David Mineau, the 354th FW commander, stand at attention as the Secretary of State’s plane arrives May 10, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed at Eielson on his way to the 10th Annual Arctic Council Ministerial, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, shakes U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hand May 10, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Tillerson landed at Eielson on his way to the 10th Annual Arctic Council Ministerial, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, shakes U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hand May 10, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Tillerson landed at Eielson on his way to the 10th Annual Arctic Council Ministerial, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- On May 10, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived on the Eielson Air Force Base flight line during exercise Northern Edge 2017. This is Eielson’s first high-tempo exercise for fiscal year 2017, and various agencies across the base were able to switch gears simultaneously to support both missions.

“Airfield operations is an area of constant flexibility and it can be a fast-paced work center,” said Capt. Kelli Wood, the 354th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations flight commander. “We don’t stop working the exercise in order to support the distinguished visitor, but rather integrate the two as we would any other inbound aircraft, but with higher priority.”

It isn’t easy going from one mission-mindset to another, but the Icemen Team were able to execute behind-the-scenes movements to ensure Tillerson and his staff were taken care of for the duration of their stay in Alaska.

“The 354th Security Forces Squadron is mission oriented and flexible to meet a myriad of requirements at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. Taylor Farris, the 354th SFS operations officer. “When additive missions, such as federal dignitary movements, are brought to us to support, we often re-appropriate our resources and patrols in the Integrated Defense construct. We maintain the standard and ensure mission success.”

The 354th FW worked closely with Tillerson’s security team to collaborate on every aspect of his visit.

“We are used to a fluid environment where priorities adapt to meet the tasks at hand,” said Farris about the 354th SFS.

The mission isn’t accomplished by any single person; rather, it takes a team of Airmen working diligently to ensure the Air Force’s needs are met. The Icemen Team takes pride in its interactions with U.S. and foreign dignitaries, and provides the best service possible.

“From the air traffic controllers who ensure priority handling of the aircraft, to airfield management who coordinates parking and airfield support, we will always adapt and accommodate to get the mission accomplished,” said Wood.