BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
To all men and women of the 104th Fighter Wing, I would like to thank you for the professionalism you displayed during the assumption of command ceremony last UTA. While I might be a bit biased, the ceremony was the "best seen to date" in my book. Everyone looked sharp, and it was an honor to accept command in front of men and women such as you.
We have come a long way in the conversion to the F-15 Eagle, thanks to the leadership, effort, teamwork, and dedication displayed by all of you. We are looking to start flying six aircraft in the morning and six aircraft in the afternoon, beginning in the near future, and as you have probably already noticed, the jets are parked back on our ramp. In fact, the following e-mail was forwarded to me on 28 August from Col Gwosch:
I offered the honor of cutting the ribbon on the new ramp to the highest ranking individual at the FOD walk; he in turn gave that opportunity to the lowest ranking members he could find.
MSgt Bob Ackley
The emphasis of leadership at all levels cannot be overstated, and the e-mail above is just one example of the great things you are all doing day-in and day-out. As I walked through the main hangar last week, a Boeing representative spoke of the great things being done by our people working in the phase dock. All the Distinguished Guests at the change of command spoke of the great people here at Barnes. With solid leadership at all levels, and good people, we will continue to move forward and reach our vision and goals for FY 2009.
Everyone should become familiar with the vision and our goals. Keep in mind that the vision should be what we are working to become, while our goals are the building blocks needed to progress to the vision.
104th Fighter Wing Vision
Our vision is to be the most respected F-15 unit in the Combat Air Forces. Pride professionalism and patriotism are the foundation of all we do.
104th Fighter Wing Goals
- Maintain Highest Degree of Combat Capability
- Meet 100% Global War on Terrorism and Homeland Security tasking
- Complete conversion to F-15 in a safe, effective, and efficient manner
- Mission Ready by 1 Oct 09.
- Stand up Alert Force by Jan 2010 supporting Operation Noble Eagle and Homeland Defense.
- Promote Safe, Secure Working Environment
- Zero Human Error induced mishaps
- Zero Security Infractions and Incidents
- Develop and Take Care of our Airmen and Families
- Properly Support Family Programs and Readiness
- Mentorship at all levels
- Prepare for inspections in a manner which will set us up for success and a grade of Outstanding
- Increase Unit Strength Numbers Above 100%
- Retention > 98%
- Recruiting Production > 110 recruits
- Partner with Local Community
- Foster strong community relations
- Be environmental friendly
- Minimize noise impact to local community
It is important to note that our number one goal involves supporting the Global War on Terror. In the past month, we welcomed home over twenty security forces and medical personnel from the CENTCOM AOR; and we will have welcomed home more by the time this article is published. Our fourth goal is really intertwined amongst all of our goals. I recently heard someone say: Mission First, People Always. Commanders and supervisors at all levels should ensure they are adhering to this principal, and mentoring should be occurring at all levels.
While it is important we reach these goals, it is more important that we all be process oriented, build a solid foundation, and ensure we are doing things right. The phase dock is an example of where we might accept delays so that we can build a solid foundation in a core area of aircraft maintenance. As someone learns something new, people are gathering around to learn the new process. The same is happening with our pilots as some of them are learning to employ a new jet with a new mission. As we learn these new processes, it is critical we continue to work as a team, and be a good wingman to our fellow warriors. When flying, we discuss Mutual Support and Visual Mutual Support. As a Wingman gains experience, there may be times he needs to "Split" from his Flight Lead, and lose the visual (where he physically cannot see him any longer). Post split, the wingman should work to regain visual mutual support quickly in order to maintain the tactical advantage of the formation. As we progress through the conversion, it is important we maintain visual mutual support, thereby massing our firepower and ability to learn and establish the new processes. Maintaining a single focus will aid us in doing things 'right' while we move forward as a team. Doing things 'right' equates to doing things safely. As I was preparing to hit send on this article, Col. Gwosch, Lt. Col. Keefe, Lt. Col. Bigelow, and myself were given a heads up to take a look outside. It was Friday, 5 Sep about 1530, and circling over the ramp was a Bald Eagle. Although Col. Gwoschs' initial reaction was to reach for his shotgun, he realized this was a good sign and had second thoughts of his hunting venture. The Eagle has a 104 to zero combat record, our way ahead remains clear.
Lastly, I would like to thank Brig. Gen. Rice for his leadership during this conversion. Last March at our Weapon System Council meeting in Washington DC, our Chairman had to leave a day early, and Gen. Rice was the highest ranking Wing Commander at our "outbrief" to NGB leadership. Although he had never flown or employed an F-15, his leadership and 'big picture' understanding was clear as he articulated our issues and spoke for the F-15 community with authority and passion. He demonstrated the power of listening, learning and embracing a new program, much like most of us are called to do. Believing in the program and the process is key to success. During our changeover, he spoke often of the people here in the 104th and how he held all of you in high esteem. His comments resonate in that he understands the demands of the guard, being a traditional member; he held two jobs and literally traveled from one time zone of the world to another to serve in his capacity, not unlike many of you. At his final staff meeting, he invited Chief Reale to recite the Airmans Creed; in concert the entire staff repeated it, demonstrating our commitment to its message. In my eye, Gen. Rice represented the 104th, our traditional guardsmen, the F-15 community, and the state of Massachusetts in an exceptional manner. He epitomizes the Airman's Creed: "I am an American Airman. Wingman, Leader, Warrior."
Col. Robert Brooks