Readiness is everyone’s job

  • Published
  • By Col. Bill Bender
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing Commander

This week began the first of two “fly away” exercises that will lead us into June’s Operational Readiness Inspection. Along with putting our wing’s immediate response capabilities to the test, this exercise is intended to assess the ability of hundreds of our Airmen to survive and operate in a simulated chemical environment when they deploy to war. 

Whether you are a direct participant in the ORI or remain behind in Grand Forks, everyone plays an important role in the wing’s success. As the wing commander, I’m asking one simple question: are we ready? Exercises represent an opportunity to demonstrate our year-round commitment to expeditionary readiness. We have worked very hard the past couple of months to sharpen our training and readiness saw and we’ve taken all the necessary steps to prepare, so I’m confident the answer is yes… bring it on! 

Expeditionary readiness is about more than just training and exercising - it also requires vision. It takes establishing organizational and individual goals and a good understanding of the challenges that will need to be overcome in order to achieve them. Our goal is simple enough … carry out the wing’s mission under wartime conditions. But what about the challenges faced in accomplishing that goal? This is the kind of question that the wing’s senior leadership, along with their spouses, pondered during a one day offsite conference last week. 

We discussed the challenges presented by our post-BRAC environment and introduced a nearly completed wing strategic plan that will help in guiding us into the future. We talked about the importance of effective communication between base agencies to meeting future challenges and refined a plan for a new web-based wing calendar, set to debut next month, which I hope will help our wing communicate better. 

Similar discussions are happening at all levels throughout the wing. commanders, first sergeants, officer and enlisted supervisors alike, are all taking on the challenges faced by their organizations and asking what they can do to help overcome them. I want to thank each and every one of them for doing their part to ensure expeditionary readiness for their organization and their people. 

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that individuals and organizations with the right kind of focus are successful. Some recent examples include our new Chiefs (who will be inducted tonight); Keith Mondloch, Gary Holman, Bruce Walker, Daniel Vital and Cynthia Massie. They also include our Senior Master Sergeant selects; Shane Downum, Darin Marick, Ronnie Rutter, Patrick Miller and David Parent. 

Congratulations to these very special enlisted leaders and to all of the trained and ready warriors who work so hard each day to make a positive and lasting difference for our wing.