Thursday, January 20, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Welcome to the Rock, AETC/IG

By Col. Mark Czelusta
314th Airlift Wing commander

As the 314th Airlift Wing commander, I am proud to welcome you to “The Rock”! Our team here represents America’s -- indeed the globe’s -- total force foundation for combat airlift. Representing three major commands, Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, we are the world’s only end-to-end team for “Everything Herk.” As you visit and evaluate our units, you’ll find that five leadership themes dominate our perspective, and I would like to share them with you in this venue.

First is the mission. We own our mission and embrace the belief that everyone is an instructor. Nearly every C-130 crewmember across the Department of Defense can attribute her or his “can do” airmanship to ideals that we demonstrate daily. Understanding that every student is an opportunity to set the stage for a generation of combat airlifters, we display an indelible mindset which includes an unmatched operations-maintenance-support relationship that is honest, open and production focused. We want every graduate to leave here knowing how good the airlift mission can be through teamwork, compliance and professionalism.

Second are standards that are high -- and without apology. The minimum is simply not good enough for this team. You will see this in our compliance culture across the wing and this installation. It is reflected in our operations and maintenance metrics, and most importantly in the combat-ready crewmembers we provide to C-130 and C-21 warfighting units worldwide. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Dig deep, and you’ll find a sense of accomplishment that comes from doing what is right vice just getting by.

Our third theme is partnerships. The 314th AW is lean and mission focused, and as such, we understand that our mission is pointless and impossible without true partnerships with both our global customers and host and partner wings. We don’t put large formations of Herks over Central Arkansas without reason, and as such, must be responsive to the needs of our U.S. and international customers. Likewise, the 314th AW cannot accomplish its mission without the platinum-standard support provided by the 19th Airlift Wing’s backshop, operations support, medical and mission support organizations. Pay particular attention to our relationship with the Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing who supplements our student production without a formal operational control or tactical control structure, but through trust, honesty and unquestionably high standards gained through nearly three decades of working together. Finally, the “Cornucopia of Tail Flashes” on our ramp demonstrates the sense of partnership that will ensure the success of our legacy schoolhouse transformation from an active duty led structure to an ANG-AFRC association by fiscal year 2015.

Looking to the future, our fourth theme isinnovation -- and for the better. Just one example is how we leveraged advancements in simulator and computer technology to reduce student time on the flightline and wear-and-tear on our fleet. This advancement alone allowed us to return six C-130 aircraft to “the fight,” and transition an entire squadron to Air Mobility Command without reducing graduate quality or quantity. Air Force Smart Ops for the 21st Century is much more than a series of metrics or analytical structures. It’s a mindset that produces concrete results in this challenging period of operational uncertainty and resource constraints.

Finally, our fifth theme is focus. We focus on what matters -- namely our mission and our airmen. Since your last visit, we earned over 35 major command and Air Force level awards. 

These awards reflect our ongoing passion for advancing the next generation of Air Force leaders. Sure there are challenges and daily frustrations, but by focusing on what matters and realizing that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, we achieve successes daily at levels far beyond our collective individual contributions. We are indeed our nation’s Airmen.

Mission-Standards-Partnerships-Innovation-Focus -- “MSPIF” for short. These themes not only inform the present but shape our future. Once again, on behalf of the airmen of Team Little Rock, welcome to our home. We can’t wait to show it off!

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