By Col. Mark Czelusta
This past Monday morning, I sat in a video teleconference with Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, 19th Air Force commander, as the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General’s team chief out-briefed him on the results of the 314th Airlift Wing’s unit compliance inspection.
After just five months as the wing commander, imagine just how honored I felt, sitting next to Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, and our two wings’ group commanders and command chiefs to hear the inspection team repeatedly use the word “Excellent” to describe our wing’s strengths, personnel and compliance.
The IG didn’t rate a single category, of the several dozen evaluated, any less than “Satisfactory.” This is a unique achievement, and a direct result of an outlook shaped by our five leadership themes:
1. Mission: We are the foundation of America’s combat airlift capability, as we have been for many years. Acknowledging we shape the perspectives for a generation of combat airlifters, everyone is an instructor. And to that end, the IG confirmed that the 314th’s and Team Little Rock’s climate is exceptionally positive and compliance minded.
2. Standards: The IG labeled our maintenance group “the best seen in the command in the last few years.” Our operations group was labeled “Excellent” in flight training. During the 2010 aircrew standardization and evaluations visit less than two months ago, they had similar words to say. This UCI completes our “trifecta” – three superlative major inspections in the last year-and-a-half.
3. Partnerships: The 314th AW is intertwined with the 19th and 189th Airlift Wings every day. The reason the 314th is known worldwide as the “C-130 Center of Excellence” – why so many other countries come to Little Rock to receive their flight and maintenance training – is because of the partnerships and fraternity that make this base so strong. Both the IG and General Solo acknowledged our “storied” inter-wing cooperation.
4. Innovation: The IG noted that they don’t see many wings leaning so far forward to integrate new technologies and make existing processes better. They also agreed that our relationship with our Aircrew Training System contractors is “superb” – our ATS teammates are a core element of our success.
5. Focus: With all the different concerns each day brings, I’m so thankful for a team of commanders and senior NCOs whose leadership allows us to keep “fighting the right fight.” Always remember, it’s about our Airmen, our mission and our future ... take time to deliberately develop all three.
My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you in the 314th AW who labored these past few months to “water the eyes” of the Inspector General – and also to those key partners in the 19th, 189th and contract ATS so vital to our success. In the end, while this was an AETC inspection, every member of Team Little Rock, regardless of the patches they wear, can take ownership of this success.