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Operational Readiness

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- November concluded a challenging period, punctuated by two exhausting exercises. The first was our annual participation in USSTRATCOM's annual GLOBAL THUNDER exercise and the second was an Operational Readiness Exercise which is intended to prepare the wing for next year's Operational Readiness Inspection. Both of these exercises require the employment of many resources as well as integral coordination and teamwork amongst multiple organizations to be effective. Why do we dedicate so much manpower, time, money and energy exercising our organization's ability to generate and support our forces? Why do we commit ourselves to such stress which seems to detract from real work and is seemingly unrealistic in nature? It can be easy to take this mindset when we see ourselves daily being involved in combat and countless other contingencies. In actuality, I would offer that as a wing, we participate in an ORE every day! The fact is, we participate in formal exercises to validate training and ensure we are best prepared to meet our commitments not only day to day, but under the most stressful conditions.

Our mission in the 55th Wing is to provide forces that are trained and ready to meet our nation's call. Exercises are an essential tool used by commanders to ensure we have properly trained our personnel and provided the necessary resources to be successful in meeting any possible tasking. Throughout your time in the Air Force, you will often hear the term 'train like we fight'. This means we, as a service and wing, must constantly question whether the way we do business will make us successful in winning our nation's wars. Exercises offer commanders the capacity to evaluate their unit's ability to operate in combat, apply learned lessons from conflicts and experiment in a controlled and deliberate process. In fact, our exercises give confidence to both the unit and commander that we can prosecute our taskings under extremely difficult conditions. As a result of the exercises, we can understand and focus on our weak points and subsequently apply measures to improve our performance.

The main component of a good exercise is a focus on the process. To some, process development and improvement may even seem tedious or take too long to reach a conclusion. However, like football, repetitive practice of the simplest offensive and defensive plays over and over until it is second nature is a must. Every player must have the basic fundamental skills from which to build and be able to execute without question. The same applies to PAR sweeps, donning MOPP gear and launching aircraft. When we take a slow and methodical step-by-step approach to problem solving in an exercise environment, we are able to accomplish two important items. First, we are able to educate our youngest Airmen in the combat skills they will need to win and subsequently prepare them to be our next leaders. Secondly, a commander is able to identify both strong and weak areas in the process and then apply corrective measures. The end result is we accomplish our exercise objectives and gain valuable lessons to improve on for the next inspection or contingency.

Additionally, TEAMWORK is key and vitally important to achieving mission success. Both direct and indirect support organizations, through their extraordinary dedication and effort, provide Offutt with the inspirational teamwork to achieve success. Successful mission accomplishment requires the entire Offutt Team. Whether directly or indirectly, everyone stationed at Offutt has a role to play in attaining and maintaining our ability to meet our national-level mission requirements. Offutt's team members consistently display their total commitment to the team's overall success. As Vince Lombardi stated, "The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual."

The commitment to vision, mission, values, goals and expectations is reflected by 100 percent mission success and is a tribute to the teamwork displayed by all Offutt personnel. The bottom line is simply that each organization is essential, because each provides a "key ingredient" to mission accomplishment regardless of specialty or function. I encourage all exercise participants to remember that attitude is everything! When you commit yourself towards your tasks, focus on the process. Learn from your mistakes, determine what can be done to improve and most importantly, communicate and formulate new/improved repeatable processes so we can build upon previous success vice relearning lessons and wasting valuable resources.