Commentary: 2013 -- Looking Ahead to Excellence

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Eric S. Overturf
  • 442nd Fighter Wing
Happy New Year and welcome back to our first drill weekend of 2013! I hope all of you enjoyed some well-deserved time off to recharge your batteries and spend time with friends, families and loved ones.

2012 was a great year for mission accomplishment in the 442nd Fighter Wing (thanks to you!), and I think this year will be even better as we pursue our new mission priorities for 2013.

Our wing mission remains the same, to Train and Deploy Combat-Ready Airmen. With all the turmoil and uncertainty facing the world in the coming year, it is imperative that our Reserve and active-duty Airmen are fit, trained and ready to carry out the mission at any time or place required.

Our first new priority is to Improve Training Processes. Training is at the heart of our mission and the foundation of our ability to provide a strategically prepared and operationally ready force. Our 2012 consolidated unit inspection identified some significant shortfalls in our training program, and this is the perfect time to work on our overall training process since we don't have any major inspections or large-scale AEF deployments on the calendar. In this era of shrinking budgets, we have to train better, smarter, and more efficiently during our daily operations and drill weekends to get the most out of our limited resources.

Our second new priority is to Implement Force Structure Changes. The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes the closure of the 917th Fighter Group at Barksdale AFB, La., one of our geographically separated units. On the bright side, the 442nd FW at Whiteman is scheduled to gain at least three aircraft and an undetermined number of manpower positions, and there is a plan to add aircraft and people to the 924th FG - our former GSU at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz. Planning and executing the orderly shutdown of the 917th FG while taking care of the Airmen and families affected by this restructuring will be a top priority going forward.

Our third new priority is Seamless Total Force Integration. The dictionary defines seamless as fully integrated, and that's where we want to be by the end of 2013 when our active-duty associate unit is fully manned with 113 personnel. The 476th Fighter Group at Moody is already a benchmark program for classic associates, and we will follow in their footsteps by building the model active association at Whiteman. Seamless TFI means training the way we fight, with active duty, Guard and Reserve airmen working side by side to get the mission done.

Finally, we will continue to Develop and Care for Airmen and their Families. When we take care of our people, our people get the mission done. We will improve recognition programs, such as Airman of the Quarter, military decorations and civilian awards to help motivate our outstanding performers. We will facilitate personal and professional development and building mental, physical, social and spiritual resilience in our Airmen. We will set the example for taking care of our families, and remember that raising the next generation of great Americans is the most important thing we can do to help our nation succeed in the long run.

Achieving our goals this year will be particularly challenging from a budgeting standpoint because our limited funds under the continuing resolution have already forced us to reschedule one of our unit training assemblies until after the continuing resolution ends on March 27th. Each unit is handling the UTA reschedules on a case-by-case basis, so your local chain of command will provide reschedule instructions. I know UTA pay is very important to you, so thank you for your patience.

Despite budgetary challenges and changes, it is going to be a great year because of every one of you. Thanks for your support in achieving these goals, because you are truly the ones who make the mission happen!