By Col. Christopher Short, 366 Fighter Wing commander / Published May 01, 2013
MOUNTAIN HOME AFB - Idaho --
Last July, I announced our wing would be conducting an Operational Readiness Inspection this week. In the time between that announcement and today, numerous events occurred that changed the concept of the inspection, redefined how we exercise and decreased the resources available to execute the exercise. The ORI changed to a first of its kind Certified Readiness Exercise, and our Wing Plans and Programming, Exercise Evaluation Team and functional experts worked with Air Combat Command Inspector General to build a program that trained the wing to meet the requirements of the combatant commanders. In April, due to the effects of sequestration, the CRE was cancelled, but this does not diminish the accomplishments you have made.
When we started these exercises last year, we knew it would take a significant effort over several months, culminating in a sprint to the finish. What we were unsure of was the impact of fiscal constraints and sequestration. Through it all, I was tremendously impressed with the professionalism and effort of the wing. Regardless of the challenges, you focused on solving the problem, overcame any obstacles and demonstrated your capabilities. In our March ORE, our last exercise with the resources necessary to accomplish the mission, the 366 FW was rated "Excellent." You should all be proud of this accomplishment and your ability to execute at such a high level.
Your dedication, teamwork and innovation have reinforced our culture of excellence and our proud history as Gunfighters. You superbly demonstrated your ability to operate across the spectrum of conflict - from humanitarian missions, to counter-insurgency operations, to combating a near-peer with a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat. Additionally, you demonstrated the ability to react and protect the Airman and precious resources on our installation from varied threats. In short, you demonstrated the ability to deploy, employ and sustain the force across our mission set, and you did it to the Gunfighter standard - Excellence!
The budget uncertainty has had a profound impact on our Wing. We've been forced to stand down the 391st Fighter Squadron, and across the Maintenance Group, Airmen are not able to fix broken aircraft - even when we have the parts to do so. Civilian furloughs are still a real possibility, and 2nd- and 3rd-order effects of sequestration have yet to be determined.
Last week we sent the 389th FS and their Aircraft Maintenance Unit to support Overseas Contingency Operations. Our Gunfighters, due in part to our successful exercises, and in part to our daily focus on preparing combat ready Gunfighters, left knowing they are trained, prepared and ready to meet any challenge presented to them.
Despite the current fiscal challenges, we will continue to deploy combat ready Gunfighters to meet our Nation's call. Every Gunfighter we send out the door will have training, equipment and resources to execute the mission. We will also continue to focus on our priorities of taking care of our Gunfighter family, optimizing our resources and continuing to develop leaders at all levels. Now more than ever we must depend on our innovation, discipline and ability to overcome the challenges in front of us.
Our Nation faces threats all over the world. I need all of you to remember the lessons you have learned from these exercises to stay mentally prepared and focused on our mission to provide combat airpower and defend our country - anytime, anywhere.
I am very proud to be your commander and lead our legendary Gunfighter team, a team greater than the sum of its parts, the best in the Combat Air Forces. I know you will continue to fulfill our mission, uphold our Gunfighter Standard and strive every day to be Excellent!
Thank you for your service.
Ride Hard, Shoot Straight and Always Speak the Truth,