by Col. Eric Overturf
442nd Fighter Wing Commander
Col. Eric S. Overturf is the commander of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an A-10 Thunderbolt II Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo / Courtesy photo)
8/23/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- It's hard to believe that summer is almost over, but it must be true because my daughter is starting high school this month. It's been a busy summer for the 442nd Fighter Wing, and our outstanding Citizen Airmen are doing great things around the globe.
The 442nd Civil Engineer Squadron is finishing up combat skills training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and will soon be on their way to Afghanistan for a joint expeditionary tasking deployment to help set up and maintain the infrastructure of coalition bases.
Pilots, maintainers and support personnel from the 917th Fighter Group at Barksdale AFB, La., recently returned from their annual tour in Alaska where they honed their skills on the Pacific Alaska Range Complex.
The 924th FG, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., amped up their hiring to grow by 30 percent this summer and started construction on their new headquarters building at the beginning of August.
The 476th FG reached 100 percent manning for the first time and is setting the standard for total force integration support of the A-10 Thunderbolt II mission and air expeditionary force deployments at Moody AFB, Ga.
All of these events mean that you are doing a great job supporting our 2011 mission priorities to support AEF deployments and successfully incorporate geographically separated units by helping our fighter groups grow and excel.
Here at Whiteman, we're in the home stretch to win our operational readiness inspection. In July, we had a great operational readiness exercise, and we're down to fine tuning a few last items before the inspector general team arrives, Aug. 26. Many of us have observed recent inspections at other wings so we know our procedures are up to speed - now we just need to demonstrate them to the IG team. We'll have ORI Right Start briefings, Aug. 25, so all of us at Whiteman can huddle up and review our game plan one last time before the IG team arrives. Here are some of the key things to think about and take care of before then:
1. If you are scheduled to process and deploy during the ORI, be ready. Our wing mission is to Train and Deploy Ready Reservists, and the "ready" part means having your mobility bag packed properly and your deployment folder up to speed with all the required training done. Listen to your unit deployment manager and ask if you have any questions about what you need. We can't afford to make mistakes on the little things that we have complete control over.
2. When inspectors provide "injects" to the scenario, they are evaluating a specific capability, and I need to know about it so I can communicate the proper response to the entire wing. If you get an inject card, take the appropriate immediate action and then ensure the event gets sent up the chain of command. For example, if an inspector tells you your computer has a virus, follow the procedures on the red/green/yellow network incident card that should be next to your computer, and then tell your supervisor or call the command post at X-3564.
3. Pay attention to the crisis action team directives (CATDs) so you have the latest updates on critical exercise information. Be ready to answer inspector questions on things like the FPCON. If you don't know the answer, check with your unit deployment control center (UDCC) or ask your supervisor.
4. Safety is paramount. Things like technical-order compliance, personal protective equipment and flight line driving can make or break us, so take care of yourself and your wingmen.
5. Finally, remember to project a positive attitude at all times. We are all happy to be on the verge of putting three straight years of inspections behind us, so let that upbeat energy shine through! Positive attitudes are infectious and will raise the spirits of your co-workers as well as the grades from inspectors if they need a tie breaker.
We are ready for this inspection. Our A-10s are the best in fleet. The dedicated Citizen Airmen of the 442nd Fighter Wing are the best I've ever worked with. We have a solid game plan and an all-star team to execute it. Be proud to show it. When an IG team inspector approaches you during the inspection, stand up, smile and greet them with the confidence and pride that comes with being part of a championship team, and the humility that comes from knowing it's not over until the report is signed.
I know we're going to do great during the ORI. Thank you for all you do. It's an honor to be your commander.