Thursday, April 10, 2008

VIEW FROM THE TOP>> Up to the challenge and ready for anything

By Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz Jr.
314th Airlift Wing commander

Team Little Rock – Congratulations, and many thanks, for once again coming through our final scrimmage with flying colors. What a huge victory! With the operational readiness inspection just over a month away, a ROCKEX performance like this summarizes how well we’ve practiced for the main event. Continue to take care of business in both our professional and personal lives so we can impress the ORI inspectors and claim our prize: an “outstanding” rating!

As we turn the corner and start heading down the home stretch, the experience we’ve gained from this exercise, as well as those before it, will prove invaluable. Our local ORI-prep team and exercise evaluators, acting as both coaches and umpires, have helped you practice for your final match up the AMC and AETC inspection teams. Let’s show them what we’ve been practicing for every day, how well we’re trained in our warfighting and training mission, and how well-oiled you are in bringing world-class Combat Airlift to the fight.

The exercise scenarios played out were designed to replicate the timing, pace, and intensity we should expect to see during the actual ORI. We can never have too much practice when it comes to the important operations we train and maintain our personnel, aircraft and equipment for daily, to include: major accident response, anti-terrorism/force protection, hijacking, unauthorized strangers in our midst with malicious intent, CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosives) response, mass casualty training, deployment lines, cargo loading, etc. Simultaneously, we seamlessly roll our combat-ready, fully-operational C-130 fleet out onto the flightline to get troops, equipment and planes to the fight … all critical elements of our everyday training and real-world missions. Each and every one of you makes this happen.

In these last few weeks, our challenge is to keep narrowing the gap between our daily routines and the stressful situations the inspectors will throw at us during the actual ORI. We are the “C-130 center of the universe.” Our primary mission is training, producing and sending to the fight world-class Combat Airlifters. Our daily routines include maintaining airplanes, flying missions, supporting deployments, deploying, caring for our families, and mentoring our Airmen to become future leaders of the best Air Force in the world.

During the actual ORI, unexpected problems or conditions may arise that challenge our training and the procedures we have practiced to perfection. How well we keep our heads in the game and overcome those challenges during the inspection will in many ways dictate the grade we receive. After the final weeks of practice, I’m confident our Combat Airlift Team made up of the 314th Airlift Wing, 189th Airlift Wing and 463rd Airlift Group will be recognized as “Outstanding” by the AMC and AETC inspectors.

Amidst all our hard work, remember we are in the middle of the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign. This is a great opportunity to do your part and contribute to a variety of worthy organizations. Last year, we raised over $125,654 for very beneficial causes. Thank you for your continued generous spirits; we encourage you to give what you can. Your contributions help other Airmen in need. I know we won’t disappoint, because let’s face it, we never do!

A final word: safety. We’ve had numerous DUI incidents within the last three months and three motorcycle fatalities since May 2007. We are, very sadly, getting too good at the response mechanisms required for these incidents and having to say goodbye too frequently to our lost team members. Last weekend, as many of you know, we lost yet another member of our valuable Air Force family from Team Little Rock to a motorcycle accident. Our hearts truly go out to his family and friends and those whose lives he touched. Remember: we’re busy both here at home and deployed.

Complacency, fatigue and poor risk management are our worst enemies. Be safe in whatever endeavors and activities you’re engaging in, and make smart decisions. The decisions you make every day create a domino effect for others. Watch out for each other; we can’t afford to lose even one member of our team. Keep up the overall great work!

Thank you, simply, for all you do. Wear your uniform with pride and know what you do makes a difference to millions around the world.

Combat Airlift!

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