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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 -- Welcome back from the Holiday Season. My family and I now have a better understanding for the need of snow plows. I want to thank everyone in advance for this upcoming year. We will be faced with many challenges while we are still in conversion. We have Civil Engineering headed to Silver Flag in February, a COMSEC inspection in March, a Security Force Protection Assessment in March, a Key West deployment in March, a June Operational Readiness Exercise, an August Health Service Inspection, and finally a late August a trip to demonstrate our combat capability at Red Flag. In December 2009, we will be putting the finishing touches on our brand new Alert Facility as we prepare to pick up Air Sovereignty Alert (ASA) mission.

Our March COMSEC inspection is critical to our success as a future ASA unit. It is crucial Commanders, COMSEC Responsible Officers (CROs), and pertinent individuals pay attention to detail anytime COMSEC is involved. It is vital we do things right relative to COMSEC. I am asking everyone to do their part for this upcoming inspection.

Our aviation deployments are spaced five and a half months apart. Our first priority will be to effectively deploy 6 jets and 85 personnel to Key West, taking special care to employ soundly, and return safely. This will be a great stepping stone for us in that it gives an opportunity to perfect our processes when deploying our jets. But all this will not work seamlessly unless we simultaneously work to build the solid foundation I have been stressing since my arrival in August; so far, we are on track for success. The foundation is critical, and I ask you all to continue to be vigilant. For now, one step at a time, and let's focus on a successful Key West deployment.

After four and a half months in this job, I want to tell each one of you that in addition to being impressed with the pride, patriotism, and professionalism of each and every one of you, I am also very impressed with the leadership of the Barnestormer Leadership Team. I have never been around a group of individuals who care more about the people within their respective commands than Col. Gwosch, Col. Gunning, Lt. Col. Lambrich, and Lt. Col. Collins. With the Group Commanders, Lt. Col. Keefe and Wing Command Chief Reale focus 100% of their energy on taking care of the team. They develop new approaches to old problems, resolve personnel issues and ensure that the decisions we make are always focused on the people of this unit and its mission FIRST!

These men, as all of you, are pledging to each other "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." The sum of our wing is much greater than our individual parts due to synergy vice compromise. Our bottom line is teamwork...and that will breed success. As General Colin Powell once said: "Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence."

As we look forward to a new year of challenges and excitement I remind you that it was 18 years ago in 1991 when on January 17th, Operation DESERT STORM began with a coordinated attack on Baghdad in order to force the withdraw of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. No one would know that 18 years later we would still be engaged in that corner of the world. We must always be prepared to defend freedom when ever the call is made. Being conscious that our efforts today will have an impact on us tomorrow, and we do not know what challenges tomorrow may offer that we could have prepared for today. As Col. 'Pappy' Boyington said, "The air battle is not necessarily won at the time of the battle. The winner may have been determined by the amount of time, energy, thought and training an individual has previously accomplished in an effort to increase his ability as a fighter pilot."; replace fighter pilot with any job at Barnes and the message is still the same, we cannot win the air battles without the foundations we are setting today.