Wing Commander: Work smarter to meet future challenges

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, ushered in a new era of wing leadership July 8 by assigning me as 129th Rescue Wing Commander and Lt. Col. Magram as 129th Rescue Wing Vice Commander. Col. Bagdasarian leaves us after an unprecedented seven year term as wing commander. Colonel Magram and I are indebted to him for the leadership opportunities he has afforded us and wish him well in his new position where he'll provide 36 years of rated aviation experience to the strategic level of the California Air National Guard.

This succession of command came with a mandate to improve capabilities and mission response, assure compliance through internal controls, and poise the wing to meet future challenges. Long term success is enabled through strategic initiatives aimed at recapitalizing our aircraft, modernizing base infrastructure and facilities, and developing Airmen capable of performing a broad spectrum of joint missions focused on saving lives, property and communities. Short term success will be measured by the Headquarters Air Combat Command Inspector General this December and again in June 2012.

Our overall goal is to remain relevant. While remaining relevant we are a valued asset that is first to be tasked when our state or nation needs us most. But without relevance, we are nothing more than liability that consumes resources.

The latter is not an option in these economic times. This often used cliche could not be more appropriate, "We must do more with less." Yet for the wing it should read, "We must do more 'smarter' with less waste or excess." We must focus on what is important, improve our processes and not just continue to do things the way we've always done them without reason.

Our first milestone toward retaining relevance is the Phase I Operational Readiness Inspection in December. The Phase I ORI focuses on our initial response and ability to transition the wing from a peacetime to warfighting posture. Our goal is to regenerate our mission aircraft and crews at a fictitious forward operating location, Base X, within 48 hours. During this time the wing must process and deploy more than 300 personnel and 200 short tons of cargo.

This challenge requires us to integrate and synchronize our processes, collaborate, and mutually support each other. Every minute counts: activities must be performed in parallel. Our actions must be safe and purposeful.

Our second milestone is a Phase II ORI in June 2012. This phase focuses on operational employment of personnel recovery forces from a fictitious Base X. We will be tasked to generate combat search and rescue alert responses under a variety of stresses and threats. Our ability to survive and operate will be tested. Again, we must demonstrate synergy by generating and launching rescue missions while recovering from base attacks and other challenges that deny basic capabilities.

Both of these inspections require team work, sense of urgency, attention to detail, and positive mental attitude. It's not good enough to know your own job and strive to achieve your own success; the ACC IG will also evaluate how your actions affect others and the mission itself.

More importantly, these inspections validate our basic ability to develop Airmen and mentor leaders. Presentation of forces is instrumental to success. The TAG and the Air Force expect to see our company grade officers and junior enlisted Airmen performing the bulk of these tasks. We have a multitude of new Airmen with entry level job knowledge. They are the future of the 129th Rescue Wing and must be fully integrated to the extent that our directives allow.

These inspections are more about expectations than anything else. When in doubt just ask, "what would the IG expect to see?" Better yet, contact your active duty counterparts our IG functional representative and ask for their advice! There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge in our Air Force and National Guard. Enable yourself by networking and learning from the successes and mistakes of others. This is a basic tenant to the goal of working smarter.

In closing, I want to reiterate a few principles of General Baldwin's command philosophy as they're foundational to our success. First, we remain a nation at war yet must continue to be responsive to emergencies and disasters in the homeland. We must continue to foster a warrior ethos and promote deserving Airmen who demonstrate integrity, selfless service and excellence. These are our core values that enable us to succeed in all that we do.

There is no mission more noble than saving lives. The 129th Rescue Wing has a distinguished history with nearly a thousand saves to its credit. Our enduring legacy is to continue this proud tradition as silent professionals capable of responding day or night, on land or at sea, during war or peace, so that others may live.