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USAF Combat Camera: talented Airmen with a particular set of skills

By By Lt. Col. Tony Wickman, commander | 1st Combat Camera Squadron | Sept. 21, 2018

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —

Today’s national security challenges are compelling leaders at all levels to identify priorities that focus on improving who we are as Airmen and what we deliver as joint warfighters in air, space and cyberspace.

Airmen must develop themselves by: capitalizing on education and training opportunities; being knowledgeable about what they do, why they do it and understanding their unique impact on the mission; and leveraging their talents to be effective in today’s Air Force and joint warfighting environment. This includes public affairs Airmen assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron.

I have the privilege of commanding a talented group of Airmen who deliver a capability rooted in Constitutional requirements and is recognized as part of the information instrument of national power. Information is so important that the Secretary of Defense issued an out-of-cycle change last year to identify it as a new, seventh joint function.

Information has a long history of shaping world views and opinions, as well as military operations. It has the ability to impact decision making and behaviors of adversaries or allies, while simultaneously reinforcing, or eroding, public trust and support. One of the most effective tools in the information environment is imagery. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words…and it can communicate across language barriers. 

The 1st Combat Camera Squadron provides imagery support to Air Force, joint and multinational services and commands using aircrew-qualified and battlefield-trained Airmen. Combat Camera Airmen’s imagery have delivered an unflinching eye to the American public and global audience, civilian and military leaders and historians on world events related to combat operations, humanitarian and contingency support and so much more. What they do each and every day matters.

We’ve developed, trained and employed Airmen who are technical experts in capturing motion and still imagery to enable operations, actions and activities in support of public affairs, public diplomacy, civil affairs, military information support operations and other information related capabilities to achieve effects across the information environment. From worldwide crisis or disaster to contingency or wartime operations, these Airmen understand their role in the information environment to support commanders and customers from tactical operations all the way up to strategic objectives.

The challenge I face as commander is the same one issued to all Airmen from our current Air Force leadership – and that is to focus on priorities related to how we as Airmen are prepared to deliver our unique perspectives and capabilities in the joint warfighting arena now and in the future. I believe every Airmen must take charge to prepare themselves to be an Airman who is educated and trained to know what they do, why they do it and how it impacts the mission, and in turn can leverage their talent to be an effective warfighter for the Air Force and joint community.

For Air Force Combat Camera, that means developing Airmen who can build on the legacy and rich traditions of previous COMCAM specialists and prepare to support and evolve as the Department of Defense and the Air Force develop and define the strategy and capabilities needed for operations in a rapidly changing information environment. I’m excited by the chance to lead Combat Camera at this critical crossroads for our Air Force and the public affairs community, and remain in awe of Airmen who deliver imagery capabilities that can and often times changes the world as we see it.