Happy New Year Team McConnell … airpower

  • Published
  • By Col. James Crowhurst
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander
As we start 2010, I'd like to give you a clear picture of how the 22nd Air Refueling Wing will provide superior warfighter support in the coming year. In fall, your leadership spent a lot of time developing priorities and goals for this year, and it's important for all of us to understand what they are.

I am going to focus on our three main priorities: Ready Mobility, Ready Airmen and Ready Base.

Ready Mobility is air refueling, airlift and aeromedical evacuation support we provide to combatant commanders around the globe as we operate, maintain and sustain our fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. Much of this mobility is air refueling support to a diverse host of allied receiver aircraft. We consistently have more than 25 percent of our tankers deployed to the U.S. Air Force Central Command area of responsibility supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They refuel fighters, bombers, airlifters, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and coalition aircraft every day . We also have the only tankers in the Air Force that provide refueling support to U.S. Special Operations Command forces as they prepare for and execute some of their very unique missions. Additionally, our tankers support U.S. Transportation Command requirements around the globe as fighter and bomber units deploy or redeploy on Air Expeditionary Force rotations.

In some cases we not only provide refueling support but also carry some cargo. Another key part of Ready Mobility is our ability to move people and cargo in our tankers. Sometimes the people we move are high-ranking generals, but what makes me the most proud is our ability to help transport wounded warriors.

The third piece of mobility, aeromedical evacuation, performs the vital mission of moving these heroes from the AOR to better-equipped hospitals in Germany and other locations. We have specialized pallets placed in our aircraft, as well as dedicated, critical-care medical teams that fly with us to treat the wounded in-flight, if required. Ready Mobility is our ability to provide aeromedical evacuation, airlift and air refueling anytime, anywhere.

Ready Mobility doesn't happen without Ready Airmen who ensure we can operate our tankers around the globe in any environment. Likewise, in our Air Force today, many of you also deploy around the globe to support combatant commanders in missions other than KC-135 operations. Since I've taken command, we've consistently had approximately 125 Airmen deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan doing amazing things. Our security forces are defending air bases and training locals; our civil engineers are building runways, roads and other infrastructure; our explosive ordnance disposal Airmen are disposing of improvised explosive devices; our medics are providing critical care; our transporters are driving convoys; our force supporters are providing morale and personnel services; our communicators are keeping deployed forces connected; our contractors and financial managers are ensuring forces have the resources they need; air traffic controllers are keeping the airways safe; airfield operators are keeping the runways clear; and several Airmen in other specialties all are deployed supporting war fighters somewhere.

Given the current operations tempo, all our Airmen must be ready physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Many of you here help make sure we're all Ready Airmen. Additionally, our family members and loved ones support us as we deploy, as they need to be supported while we're deployed. Our Airman and Family Readiness Center, our chapel and many more of our helping agencies do a great job making sure we have Ready Airmen whose families know they'll be supported as well.

A key to having Ready Mobility and Ready Airmen is having a Ready Base that we're proud to work and, in some cases, live on. We have been blessed here at McConnell with tremendous congressional support to fund our buildings, roads and other infrastructure. What I've also noticed in my time here is you take great pride in maintaining and sustaining these resources. Additionally, our mission support group does a great job of not only supporting us but also our partners on the installation. Whether it's communications support for the 184th Intelligence Wing or lodging for members of the 931st Air Refueling Group, you go out of your way to provide outstanding support. Your efforts are so important because a Ready Base in our Air Force today usually supports a Total Force team working together to execute a mission.

We cannot provide Ready Mobility without our associate partners in the 931st ARG who operate, maintain and sustain our KC-135s with us. They also have Ready Airmen, who rely on us to ensure they're prepared for deployment. Likewise, the 184th IW has several unique missions that rely on us for support. For example, their weapons-storage mission is reliant on members of our logistics readiness squadron transferring the munitions to C-17s or C-5s that in-turn transport these war-fighting tools to contingency operations. Additionally, our base infrastructure is critical to the 184th IW's ability to provide situational awareness to the battlefield commander, based on their team's analysis of MQ-1 "Predator" data. Just like within our wing, teamwork is critical to maintaining a Ready Base that supports our partners too.

I want you to know; I'm excited about this new year. Yes, I realize we have several major inspections coming in February, but I don't see these as a burden. I see them as opportunities for us to show the inspectors how well we do our jobs. In the coming 45 days, you will likely be doing something to prepare for these inspections, and I ask that you keep that in mind. Also, most of these inspections are compliance-based, so our focus shouldn't just be getting ready for the inspectors but rather making sure we have the right processes in place. Our goal is to be ready for our programs to be inspected any day of the year for compliance. It's part of who we are.

I've seen how well you provide Ready Mobility; I know you are Ready Airmen who operate from a Ready Base. Because of this I'm confident you will put your best foot forward, and we'll do well ... so thanks in advance.