Changes to come supporting Visible Support - Invisible Attack

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marjorie McNichols
  • 49th Fighter Wing command chief
Happy New Year Team Holloman! I hope you had an opportunity to rest up over the holidays because we are hitting 2007 fast and furious. This year will prove to be key in preparing the 49th Fighter Wing to transition from the F-117A to the F-22A. By now, you've probably attended one of General Goldfein's commander's calls and are aware of his road map for the wing's immediate future. This year we'll focus our efforts in three primary areas: realistic combat training, transition through innovation and taking care of each other. This focus will allow us to do what 49ers do: Visible Support ─ Invisible Attack!

This year we'll be combining our Phase I and II Operational Readiness Exercises into a combined, realistic deployment of personnel and cargo. We'll also be operating in a remote corner of Holloman under realistic "sandbox" conditions ─ complete with improvised explosive devices and Giant Voice prayer calls. Holloman looks a lot like Afghanistan and Iraq already, so we can easily capitalize on our environment for realistic preparation and training. We will be more prepared than ever for the conditions in the Middle East ─ our goal is to practice harder here than we will actually experience there. Deployed officer and NCO leadership is needed now more than it's ever been in our service's history; we need to be ready and our new approach to OREs will ensure we are. This is a huge departure from the way we've trained in the past ─ but an appropriate transition for this time: Our time.

Another big transition for us is that our Air Force is experiencing a major reduction in force. We've got to be able to look at everything we do with fresh eyes, because we really will have fewer people to do what needs to get done. Fewer personnel mean the ability to buy newer weapon systems. Those weapon systems will in turn require fewer people to operate and maintain them. We'll be a smaller, more lethal and advanced force. However, we are shrinking and have to be more efficient right now. Air Force Smart Operations 21 initiatives are blossoming all over the Air Force. Holloman is right out front in developing innovative change through AFSO21 because our leadership listened to the people closest to the action. General Colin Powell, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "The [soldier] in the field is always right until proven otherwise." So, keep pulling out those clean sheets of paper, folks ─ redesign your workplaces with a keen eye on efficiency. This will guarantee we'll be ready when the F-22A arrives and our mission, Visible Support ─ Invisible Attack won't miss a beat.

Seems like a lot to do in a year, right? Well, while we are doing all this transition and realistic training, we will have to step it into high gear in the "taking care of each other" department. Many of you heard the "wingman concept" from pilot briefings not too long ago. The Air Force's wingman culture knows no rank structure ─ we must mutually support each other and protect each other. We are relying on you to "maintain a visual" on your superiors, subordinates and peers. Keeping a watchful eye on them helps us prevent poor choices that end up a very bad situation for one of our fellow Airmen. We are shrinking in numbers, so we need all of you safe and sound and on the job to win this long war. And, while we are taking care of each other, we're going to make Holloman an even better place to live. We're gearing up customer service-focused training, upgrading our main drag and providing a community connection through a new Adopt-an-Airman program. Holloman is going to be an F-22A base ─ we are and will be the premier fighter wing in the Air Force ─ we should look that way, too!

Challenging? You bet. But as General Goldfein often says "in every challenge there is an opportunity." Working together, we will accomplish great things in 2007 here at the Friendliest Place on Earth.