U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of the Air Combat Command, visited Grand Forks Air Force Base on Oct. 7 to discuss the future of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission located there.
The visit was announced in a release from GFAFB's Public Affairs department. Kelly, who visited GFAFB with Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC command chief, said the Air Force will soon provide an update about its ISR missions, of which GFAFB plays a key role. Those missions, Kelly said, need to be persistent, connected and also survivable. GFAFB is the home of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.
“If we don’t punch into sovereign space, we are not an Air Force that is ‘airpower anytime, anywhere,’ we will be one that is ‘sometimes, some places,’” said Kelly. “In terms of innovation, we need to look forward with strategic, penetrating ISR.”
In September, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both North Dakota Republicans, announced a new low-earth-orbit satellite mission for GFAFB. The Defense Department’s Space Development Agency will partner with the Air Force for that mission.
Kelly stressed the importance of updating the ISR mission to keep ahead of national adversaries, though he said members of the Air Combat Command are capable of doing so now. Partnering with the SDA is a way to keep that mission updated.
Kelly also said partnering with the SDA could also lead to opportunities at the Base for the U.S. Space Force, and he was briefed on the current standing of the SDA partnership.
“Whether it be with our local partnerships, U.S. Space Force Guardians or with our own teammates, we bring the power of capability every day,” said Kelly. “Our Air Force has never been more relevant in the nation as we are today. Great power competition requires great power capability.”
While at GFAFB, Kelly met with Air Force personnel, who discussed the importance of their mission. He thanked them, as well as expressed his gratitude to the people serving in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft community, and said the 319th Reconnaissance Wing plays a direct role in global power competition.