By Commentary by Col. Robert T. Brooks, Jr., 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published September 11, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- To say we have had a busy summer would be an understatement. From the UCI/LCAP, to Alaska, to the ASA move, and ONE, we have been and still are heavily engaged. I want to explain Operation Noble Eagle (ONE). These taskings typically come to us with less than two weeks notice. The ONE mission must be filled. The entire F-15 community/WSC (Weapon System Council) has come up with a plan to fulfill these missions because 1. It is our mission and 2. Because it helps with our overall MDS relevance. When the tasking comes down, ACC looks for any unit that is geographically based near the event to cover the vulnerability window. If a geographic based fighter unit volunteers, they cover the mission (F-15, F-16, F-22 etc). If no one volunteers, then ACC goes to a scheduling product that has an "in vul" F-15 unit that will accept the tasking. I can tell you the other ANG F-15 units have been pulling their fair share and continue to do so.
While I normally do not put this out, I think it is better for you to know why we choose to do some of the things we do. This is an excerpt from an article earlier this week:
"Over the next six months, somewhere between $400 billion and $1.15 trillion dollars in national security spending will likely be cut from the U.S. budget. The numbers are so staggering that they almost defy imagination, but this is the cold, hard reality that must be faced. And the stakes are huge: How America's national security leaders approach the debate over these defense cuts will do much to determine whether the United States remains capable of sustaining its global commitments in the coming decades".
Going from two inspections, to Alaska, to a move to Westover and back with ASA, this current tasking, and an AFOA (Alert Force Operational Assessment), you all continue to perform at a very high level. This could not be done without strong leadership from commanders and shop chiefs, and sound followership at all levels. Everyone has an important job on the team; continue to do your part. We are busy, but it is the world we live in today, we cannot afford to sit back and not participate. Being employed, relevant, and needed is a good thing in today's fiscally constrained times.
Earlier this week we welcomed home our Security Forces from 6 months in the AOR. One young man saw his 5 month old child for the first time. Additionally, we recently welcomed home EOD from their 5th operational deployment in 4 years. Welcoming home our warriors in the proper manner helps start the process of reintegration which is a small part of the broader yellow ribbon program. We will have a formal welcome home at the Oct CC Call and recognize everyone individually. Additionally at that time, we will perform official Change of Command ceremonies for MXG, LRS, and CE.
I want to congratulate Senior Master Sgt. Tom Puccio as he was recently awarded the Lance P Sijan award for the ANG enlisted category. The description of the award speaks for itself and his level of performance here in the 104th FW: "The Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in their jobs and in their lives. It has become one of the U.S. Air Force's most prestigious awards. Sijan, an Air Force captain and fighter pilot, died while a POW in Vietnam. Prior to his capture, the United States Air Force Academy graduate and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967".
I would also like to congratulate our Shooting Team who competed at the 1SG Kevin Dupont Memorial Marksmanship Competition this past weekend. The team of Barnestormers led by Tech. Sgt. Chris Cekovsky won the entire match. Paraphrasing an email from the MA NG Joint Chief of Staff to Major Gen. Rice: "Sir, hopefully word has reached you that the 104th performed brilliantly; both collectively and individually today. A great group of Airmen from across the ANG competed, but the Barnes team took home an array of hardware that is truly impressive! Chief
Maj. Gen. Dean sends his congratulations to all of you on the Outstanding Results of our LCAP and UCI. Your efforts are not only recognized here at the state level, but also at the National Level as well. Prior to becoming the 1st AF Commander, Maj. Gen. Dean served as the Inspector General, so he understands the effort required to do so well on these inspections.
Needless to say, many of you out there are stepping up to the plate in a big way and making an impact. As a team, we moving same way same day and that will be a requirement as we continue meeting each and every one of our mission objectives and Fighter Wing goals. We are only as good as our last event - so every day we need to be on our game. Please take the time Saturday to enjoy Family Day with your loved ones. I want to thank Chief Fappiano and his team for all of their hard work in making Family Day a great event for everyone. You are all great Americans, and I am proud to serve with you.