Thursday, May 13, 2010

COMMENTARY>>714th TRS foundation for C-130 Combat Airlift

by Lt. Col. Phillip Everitte
714th Training Squadron commander

Today begins the last week of my tour as the 714th Training Squadron commander. The past two years have been the highlight of my 19 years of service, and looking back, I can certainly say the squadron and I enjoyed the best of times and on occasion endured the worst of times.

I was unaware of just how important the 714th TRS was to the success of the global C-130 mission when I took command; I suspect this is the case for most folks on the base. Over the past two years, I have learned much from the professional Airmen in my squadron as they have managed nearly $1 billion in aircrew training contracts for the C-130E, H, J and avionics modernization programs.

They, along with our Lockheed Martin partners, laid the foundation to infuse creative technology in C-130 training, enabling us to sustain schoolhouse output and quality. We accomplished this with fewer aircraft, allowing the Air Force to recapitalize formal training unit aircraft and instructors back into the operational force. Meanwhile, 3,600 students have qualified to fly the C-130 in one of 45 courses offered, each moving on to operational assignments to make a difference through combat airlift either at home or around the globe. We have grown to host the Air Force’s largest international flight and maintenance training center, qualifying and providing field studies for 400 new combat airlifters on behalf of 12 partner nations.

While I could go on and on about numbers and accomplishments, I never cease to be impressed by the Air Force’s people – whether leading a wing project, mentoring a student, deploying in support of contingency operations or answering the call during the middle of the night on weekends to take care of fellow Airmen. The men and women of our Air Force take pride in what they do and that’s why we are so successful. Without a doubt, people are the Air Force’s No. 1 resource.

As I mentioned, we did endure some tough times and I would be remiss if I did not mention 1st Lt. Jesse Alne, a student pilot who died in a motorcycle accident Nov. 19, 2008. While the accident was a monumental tragedy for the Alne family, Jesse’s fiancĂ©, classmates, friends and the squadron, I was amazed by the strength demonstrated by those who had lost so much.

There are many hurdles ahead with legacy C-130s heading off into the sunset and tomorrow’s uncertain force structure. The C-130J program is just beginning to fully ramp up and AMP is on the horizon. These new platforms will drive new simulators, facilities and training technology, and of course a never-ending stream of C-130 students who will need to be trained to become the next generation of combat airlifters ... but these are challenges for my successor, Lt. Col. Mark Livelsberger, and the great team he’ll lead.

Best wishes and Godspeed to the 714th TRS and Team Little Rock.

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