22nd AMXS: Maintaining Superior Warfighter Support

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mary Teeter
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
As I write this we are celebrating another outstanding year for our Air Force.

This is a time when we pause to take stock of all of the contributions of those who serve and who have served before us as warrior Airmen. In doing so, and as the new commander of the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, I am struck by the many tremendous contributions of squadron maintainers over the past year.

It has been a terribly busy year for our aircraft maintainers, and as Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, shared with us a few weeks ago, we will continue to support the same operations and more for the foreseeable future.

As our Air Force turns another year older and we prepare to put another year in the history books, I wanted to share with you a few of the fun facts and contributions of the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron over the past year.

While preparing to update General Allardice about the changes in the squadron over the past year, we ran the numbers. The average age of the 63 aircraft assigned to McConnell  is 49 years. The average age of our maintainers who work on the KC-135 Stratotanker is 28 years. In August 2009, the average experience of the 536 personnel assigned to the 22 AMXS was 38 months -- just over three years.

In August 2010, the average experience of 562 squadron personnel was 43 months -- a mere five months more. McConnell aircraft will have flown more than 43,000 hours this year.

From McConnell, we join our Wing team members in leveraging our three Air Mobility Command core capabilities: air refueling, airlift and aeromedical evacuation. In the words of Gen. Raymond Johns, AMC commander, "We are touching lives and saving lives."

Not many other units can claim to have a hand in all three of AMC's core capabilities. I would add other capabilities to that list that only McConnell aircraft can provide: special operations air refueling, multi-point air refueling for joint and coalition partners and receiver tankers that extend the reach of combat airpower.

Recently, a hail storm that damaged many of our aircraft threatened to interrupt our capacity to provide these capabilities. Squadron Airmen, along with others from on base and around our Air Force, came together to inspect and repair our aircraft in less than 24 hours to ensure continued mission operations.

On any given day, there are more than 100 squadron maintainers in six specialties deployed, and there are another dozen or more on temporary duty orders as flying crew chiefs with McConnell aircraft and aircrews. This represents nearly a quarter of the wing' s deployed Airmen. With regard to "Ready Mobility," 22nd AMXS is "all in."

With so many of our squadron Airmen in training, most of our experienced Airmen and trainers have had to fulfill this deployed commitment. Because of this diverse mission set both at home and deployed, we explored innovative solutions to training Airmen, including relying on our total force of Department of Defense civilians, Guard and Reserve partners.

This infusion of experience and continuity allowed us to create a culture where training was not separate from everyday mission operations. Training became a consideration with every task performed. Working with our 22nd Operations Group partners, we were able to maximize the efficiency of our flying schedule to create additional opportunities to train Airmen.

We were also able to hire back civilians to capitalize on years of flightline experience, mainly with the KC-135, and our efforts produced results.

This summer, most of those who were 3-level apprentices last year are now 5-levels or are awaiting final certification and are able to deploy. Last year, there were 46 Airmen in training on a typical day. This year, there are 77 maintainers in training, almost doubling our training throughput. We are increasing our capability through process improvement and persistent, focused effort on those things that will produce results.

This effort will pay off in the future. The pace of operations may not change, but our approach has, and we will definitely see results : additional qualified Airmen are available to ease the burden of a high operations tempo. We are creating "Ready Airmen."

As Airmen who live and work on McConnell, we also have a responsibility to ensure our base remains ready to provide Superior Warfighter Support. By participating in base activities and events, being a good wingman and doing our part to take care of our personal responsibilities and to care for our base, we help to ensure a "Ready Base."

It is important that we periodically reflect on our accomplishments and contributions for many reasons. As we continue to maintain a high operations tempo, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the pace and number of tasks we perform every day. It can be difficult to explain to our families why we have to work extra hours for an exercise or deploy at a moment's notice. Sometimes we can't see how our daily efforts contribute to the overall mission of our command or Air Force.

By reflecting on our accomplishments and putting them into perspective, we remind ourselves where we fit in the big picture. General Johns in his Labor Day "Message to mobility Airmen" had this to say about how our hand in leveraging AMC's three core capabilities makes a difference.

"We do this for our joint force, for our coalition allies and for our civilian partners so that our nation can achieve its critical objectives," he said.

I think this means that we come to work every day to use our specific skills, do a great job for ourselves, for each other and our families, and for those who can't do what we do.. I know that when life gets busy and we have a lot to do, reflecting on the accomplishments and contributions of McConnell's maintainers helps me to regroup and it reminds me of how privileged I am to serve with this outstanding team and to be able to provide Superior Warfighter Support as a member of the 22nd AMXS.