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Commander’s Column

Col. Robert “L.A.” Brooks, Wing Commander, 104 Fighter Wing, Barnes ANGB

Col. Robert “L.A.” Brooks, Wing Commander, 104 Fighter Wing, Barnes ANGB

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- Barnestormers, it's been a few weeks since our last drill and our Phase 1 Operational Readiness Evaluation. While we do have a way to go in terms of improvement, we took a big step in the right direction by starting to build the foundation for those processes. The outside Exercise Evaluation Team did a great job looking for and exploiting areas so that we could really test our deployment machine as well as our generation and regeneration of aircraft. The feedback we received during the out-brief stressed the importance of doing it again within the next six months. In November we will have another 4-day exercise and we will utilize the lessons learned. The total number of phase 1 OREs prior to inspection (4) will remain the same as originally planned, and we are trying to push up our phase 1 ORI from Aug 2011 to Jun 2011, so we can "AFSO 21" any important summer plans.

Next up to the plate is our Health Services Inspection (HSI). The inspection will occur on 28/29 August and it will focus on our medical readiness. Commanders should ensure their folks have SABC, PHAs, immunizations, proper dental status, HIV testing, DNA profiles, members advised on personal protective equipment such as hearing protection, dosimeters, gas mask, arthropod countermeasures, Pre/Post deployment Health Assessment Questionnaires, medical record reviews, and identification and review of duty limiting profiles (422s). Col Collins and his team have been working very hard to prepare for this inspection, and I ask that all of you help the team and do your part.

While Col Collins and his team fight in one AOR, we will have another war going on in the Red Flag AOR. This Red Flag allows us the first opportunity to fly missions against other adversaries in the Air Forces largest training exercise. We will be evaluated by our peers as we employ during day and night simulated combat missions. This exercise is important for us to continue to grow and complete the conversion in the F-15. Although our stated IOC date is April of 2010, we have eyeballed Oct 2009 as a desired initial operating capability date. Successful completion of this important Red Flag exercise will be a huge milestone for all of us, and will build confidence in the unit as a whole. It will not be an easy deployment, but being good requires us to challenge ourselves and sometimes take the road less traveled. The wingman concept will be critical to our success and I ask that we all continue to watch each other's back and be smart while deployed to Las Vegas.

HSI and Red Flag, those are the two areas I am asking you all to focus on for the next five weeks. I have heard the term Laser Focus, and that is what we all need to do to be successful for both of these events. As I walked in on Day 2 of our ORE in June, I passed several cars and took note of the license plates and bumper stickers. I read "Spirit of America", then "Live Free or Die", next was a "Bronze Star" recipient on someone's car tag, and finally "You can pry my gun from my cold dead hand". Remember, freedom is not free, and while there is a lot going on, I ask you to focus in on the two areas we need to. I also want you to know there is no place I'd rather be, than serving in the 104th Fighter Wing with Patriots like yourselves right here and right now.