By Col. Robert T. Brooks, Jr., 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published February 06, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- We have been placing a lot of emphasis on inspections over the past 3 years, first, phase one Operational Readiness Inspection preparations, now a Logistics Compliance Assessment and an Unit Compliance Inspection, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The word was officially announced during the Winter Wingman day event, but it is worth repeating in this article. Following the UCI, the 104th Fighter Wing's next scheduled inspection will be a phase one Operational Readiness Inspection in September 2013. What does that mean for the wing; first and foremost, it will allow the unit a chance to catch its breath. We have been incredibly busy since 2008 with conversions, stand-ups, and inspections. We can still expect unscheduled Alert Force Evaluations, but our focus can return to flying the mission; with exciting training trip opportunities beginning to surface.
The accelerated pace we have learned to accept as our new steady state, will not slow down much, but the pull of competing priorities will decrease significantly. Our focus, after the UCI will be to train, preparing for our Air Expeditionary Force cycle which will begin in December of 2012, there are no forecasted tasking, but we are still a long way out from our venerability.
Other events on the horizon include a training trip and ESGR boss-lift to Tyndall Air Force Base to support the Weapon System Evaluation Program, and in August, the initial planning has begun for a family day, reminiscent of the one the unit had as the last A-10 left Barnes in 2008.
During the Winter Wingman event, a theme of resiliency was discussed at length, and for those who have not had a chance to see the wingman materials, let me share with you some very important ideas. 1) We all need to take care of ourselves, looking for warning signs that we may need help, then using the resources available to alleviate or at least reduce the stress. 2) We need to continue to practice safe habits, understanding that accidents happen, but mishaps are preventable. Safety does not only apply to aircraft and mission safety, but also personal safety. 3) We need to focus on being good wingmen to each other. I cannot say this enough, if you can't rely on each other, you cannot rely on anyone.
Focus on teamwork, trust and communication, up-down-and-across the chain of command and you (the wing) will be successful in all that we do.