• Published
  • By Col. Kenneth Ekman
  • 49th Wing vice commander
Our commitment as Airmen goes beyond the day-to-day performance of our garrison duties-we must be ready to deploy whenever and wherever our nation calls. Being prepared is a personal choice. Readiness also requires teamwork in our units and duty sections. This responsibility also impacts how we provide for our families. Ultimately, each of us has to be ready.

Readiness starts and ends with you. While Holloman deploys about 400 Airmen at any one time, we rarely deploy as entire units. Small UTCs and individual rotations require Airmen to take preparedness into their own hands rather than relying on squadron management. Do you know when each of your Expeditionary Skills and Annual Total Force Awareness training courses will expire? Is your mobility folder complete? Are your PT test, PHA and dental examinations current, and when are they next due? Is your mobility bag packed, and does it contain all your required items? Given the demands of daily mission activities at Holloman, only you can answer all these questions as they impact your ability to deploy.

Readiness also drives how we lead our people and focus our unit activities. At the wing level, we make sure forty-niners stay sharp by conducting a robust series of exercises over the course of each year. The July Phase I will improve our ability to regenerate aircraft and deploy equipment and people supporting Combatant Commanders around the world. Furthermore, our June Natural Disaster Exercise validated our protection and recovery actions when faced with a tornado's destruction. At the squadron level, we train and equip to respond to impending and potential taskings. In our duty sections, your teamwork and good ideas ensure that we succeed when put to the contingency test.

Our families need preparation, too. We can start by giving them clear expectations about our units' deployed missions and schedules. Next, we can make sure that our finances, child care and household activities can endure both planned and unexpected absences. When the deployment becomes imminent, invest in your families through preparatory programs hosted by the Airman and Family Readiness Center, or go on a couples retreat hosted by the Holloman Chapel. While deployed, make time daily to communicate with your loved ones. And, when you return, be deliberate as you and your family define a "new normal" after extended separation.

Whether you serve one term of enlistment or a 20-year career, your deployments will be the high points defining your most memorable and meaningful service. Take charge of your readiness at the individual level, and in your units. Invest in your families before, during and after each deployment. They'll thank you and stand by you long after you take off the uniform. Evolving missions and budget cuts don't change the fact that every forty-niner should be ready to deploy when called to serve our great nation. I'm proud to serve with each of you.