WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Posted on Bagram Air Base's life support door is a sign that reads "It's all about the 19 year old with a rifle - everything else is just support." The sign reminds pilots and weapon system officers stepping to their aircraft of the reason they are about to launch into mountainous terrain, throw their jet and body at the ground and deliver weapons upon the enemy.
Simply put, we are supporting the ground battle, the infantry grunt in direct contact with the enemy.
Our operational readiness inspection scenario puts even more importance on our ability to provide close air support for the infantry. We are simulated deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, the only U.S. and NATO troops maneuvering in Afghanistan are infantry with very little armor support, and the enemy has crossed the border, attacking our infantry with tanks and armored personnel carriers.
We need air support to provide CAS and destroy the enemy. Without CAS support, the enemy will most likely win the ground battle. Our wing's job is to fly 98 sorties in two days and conduct air strikes in support of our infantry being overrun by enemy tanks.
Every element of the 442nd Fighter Wing is critical to the success of the mission. The maintenance and operations groups have a direct link to the fight and the mission support group and medical squadron are major players in supporting those elements. We all need to be on our "A" game to be successful.
The Bagram scenario provides some realism for the ORI but we all know the inspector general uses AFI 90-201 to give us the real grade. Every squadron and flight in the wing has come a long way since last summer. We have developed a sound Base X plan, which we have practiced and are prepared to execute. We have refined some of our maintenance and operations procedures to better execute the 98 sorties in two days, our ability to survive and operate (ATSO) and self aid and buddy care (SABC) procedures are becoming more proficient each day, we completely changed the civil engineer and services play area, the transition-day convoy has practiced and is primed, and our medical tiger teams have prepared us for numerous SABC challenges.
Bottom line - every unit in the wing is ready, we now need to execute.
We are ready but we need to be positive and sharp when the Air Combat Command IG arrives. Approximately 50 percent of all Air Force fighter units have failed their ORI in the past year. The stakes are high and we need to be on our best game.
What are some of the discrepancy trends the IG witnesses in other units?
The IG's trends are as follows: explosive safety; munitions support, to include breakout, buildup, delivery and storage; weapons-loading activities; aircraft maintenance (forms documentation and tech. data adherence); information operations; force protection and base defense; civil engineering; services; PERSCO; contracting; ATSO; and lack of familiarity with the Airman's Manual.
Again, these are the trends the ACC IG sees in other units, not necessarily the 442nd FW but these trends give us an indication where the IG concentrates their time and energy.
Those tendencies indicate who shoulders the most responsibility for our success. According to AFI 90-201 the wing's final grade will be no higher than the operations group's grade. That puts a lot of responsibility on operations but the IG gives other units a more detailed inspection. Like it or not, certain units have more challenges during an ORI than other units. Specifically, bomb builders and loaders, the "Maintenance-101" of turning a jet, civil engineers, and ATSO are traditionally the areas where the IG focuses. We all need to be on our "A" game, but those areas need to be extra strong.
What can you do to better execute our plan?
1. Know your job. Job-101 is essential to a successful ORI.
2. Load and turn jets as fast as possible but comply with all the tech. data. Late launches are not acceptable. Launching with an incorrect SCL is not acceptable. If we launch a jet on time and we don't reference the correct tech. data, we do not get credit for that sortie. Tough duty but we have the personnel to make it happen.
3. Bombs and bullets on time, tactical, filmed, documented, and no switch errors.
4. A great attitude is contagious - as Command Chief Master Sgt. Allan Sturges continuously preaches, we all need a positive mental attitude (PMA). The IG will attempt to frustrate the most prepared and knowledgeable members of the wing. We'll all be tired, run down and in MOPP 4 so we are easy targets. Stay motivated and focused on the mission.
5. If you have a problem with the inspectors, do not argue with them - contact your supervisor and move the disagreement up the chain of command. .
6. Have a sense of urgency! Quickly don masks and gloves, run to bunkers and take cover. If the insurgents are trying to breach the perimeter, engage and kill them. If we take prisoners, treat them according to the laws of armed conflict.
7. Abide by all customs and courtesies. Be on time!!
8. Be proactive to IG inputs, make decisions, and get the task done even though it may not be your normal job.
9. Every Airman is a sensor. If you see something wrong - Use SALUTE and report it.
ATSO items to know and watch:
1. Always have your helmet's chin-strap attached even in MOPP 4,
2. Know that materials absorb chemicals at different rates. For example, sand absorbs chemicals faster than concrete, which absorbs chemicals faster than grass. Therefore, given a choice of which surface to walk upon; use sand, then concrete, then grass.
3. Know the Base X zones (see the map on page 11).
4. Know and read your Airman's Manual. Study it during down times. Specifically know how to use the items in your combat wallet. Know how to read M-8 paper, know how and when to administer Atropine injections and P-tabs.
5. Always (even in Alarm Green) enter and exit the play area via a transition control point (TCP).
6. Expect attacks during core-hour shift change, which will drive the requirement to use TCPs and transition from MOPP 4 to MOPP 2 or vice-versa.
7. Double-cover everything. This includes actually covering personal items along with simulating covering vehicles and equipment.
8. Stay attentive to alarms and attacks. Know what type of attack it is and how to respond. There is some confusion on the initial response to the different alarm conditions - see numbers nine and 10 below.
9. Initial missile attack response - personnel should don chem. gear to the appropriate MOPP level and get in a bunker. If in a vehicle, don the appropriate chem. gear, stay in the vehicle, drive it to a bunker and stay inside the vehicle. The assumption is the missile is a chemical weapon and staying in the vehicle will keep personnel covered in the deposition phase. If you are in a no-play area (for example driving the bus to work outside the play area), simply pull over, do not don MOPP gear and return to the processing center (PC). If the bus is going to the PC, they can continue as long as they are outside the play area.
10. Initial mortar or ground attack response - first know what zone is being attacked and determine if it affects you. If the attack is in your zone (Alarm Red ground attack in your zone), personnel should take cover in a bunker and be prepared to defend your area. If in a vehicle, drive the vehicle to a bunker but get out of the vehicle and be prepared to defend the area. Driving outside the play area is the same response as a missile attack but if driving to a non-affected zone, continue into the play area.
11. Know the duress word and chemical code.
12. Know your battle buddy!
What can everyone expect during the ORI?
We have had several small OREs, a lot of part-task training and two major OREs (May and September), which should replicate the actual ORI. When the ORI team arrives, we should see a similar inspection as our OREs. The ORI's activities should be as follows:
Oct 22 - All wing personnel arrive at Whiteman Air Force Base
Oct 23 - IG team arrival
Oct 24 - Transition Day
Oct 25-26 ORI Phase Two
Oct 27 - Weather back up day
Oct 28 - Base clean up, IG writes report
Oct 29 - IG out brief (not a mandatory AT day for the wing)
Sucking on a rubber mask isn't fun but when you're asked to perform your job in MOPP-4, during the deposition phase, we should be prepared to do it and willing to accept the risk so we can support the grunt with a rifle. Our goal is to launch 98 sorties in two days, kill the enemy and support the infantry. The wing is ready; you are prepared, so let's show the ACC IG our abilities and get an OUTSTANDING in this ORI.