Thursday, April 17, 2008

VIEW FROM THE TOP>> On the road, over the pond

By Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr.
314th Airlift Wing commander

It’s the final countdown. Over the past several months, we’ve been preparing together for the ORI. We’ve come a long way thanks to your hard teamwork and efforts!

This past week, a Site Activation Task Force team visited Team Little Rock reviewing the feasibility of switching ownership of the base from Air Education and Training Command to Air Mobility Command in the foreseeable future. While there is nothing final yet, we need to prepare for change – just like we are preparing for the operational readiness inspection.

The base transfer will likely be fairly transparent and a “patch change” to most Team Little Rock members. It took months to ensure operations flowed smoothly for the upcoming inspection. So, too, will it take time and preparation for the possible transfer of major command reins. It will take the cooperation of many offices installation-wide to make this happen, but I know we can do it.

That being said, we always need to be prepared, not only for the ORI, but for our deployments. It’s part of our job, part of what we do as America’s Airmen. Our challenge when that deployment order comes down to you or your unit is narrowing the gap between our daily routines and deployed conditions.

Deployments are one of the greatest tasks our Airmen face. They must deal with these daily routines combined with the often austere, dangerous nature of a deployed location. Working and living within close proximity of mortar rounds and IEDs can be genuinely unnerving, however, our superior Airmen and Combat Airlifters – both here at home and “on the road, over the pond” – continue to fight and win the Global War on Terrorism with bravery and enthusiasm. Cling to that mentality heading into the ORI. Be ready to react to any challenge and show the inspectors what great programs we have, but also remember to take your time and do things safely. We can’t sacrifice safety — ever.

Speaking of superior Airmen, some of us may have heard the new Air Force slogan: “Above All.” It’s an innovative educational publicity initiative designed to inform our public about what the U.S. Air Force does and how we accomplish our mission as the most technologically savvy air power in the world today. We exist to dominate the air, space and cyber domains, protecting freedom and democracy for Americans, as well as those in countries around the world. We have more than 25,000 Airmen currently deployed from bases around the world in support of the Global War on Terror, many whom are part of our Team Little Rock family.

Our mission throws its’ own weight into the fight right here from “The Rock” – training and deploying the world’s best Combat Airlifters; keeping convoys and almost 8,500 troops monthly off the dangerous Iraqi roads; taking deployed soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines the much needed supplies needed via world-class C-130 airlifters flown by our highly trained crews … as well as taking folk to the fight and bringing them home to their families.

Last year the Air Force airlifted nearly one million passengers and 330 million pounds of cargo, most of it to and from Iraq. That’s approximately equivalent to moving all 361,000 residents of Pulaski County, with 300 pounds of luggage each, from Little Rock to Iraq, back to Little Rock, and then back to Iraq. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

We truly play a colossal role in the fight against terror. “Above All” may be the new Air Force motto, but Team Little Rock exemplifies it and leads the way! Your contributions from right here in “The Natural State,” the great state of Arkansas, make truly significant positive impacts on the lives and quality of life of American citizens and many others around the world.

Remember, you are a vital part of something much larger and meaningful to hundreds of thousands across the world. Combat Airlift!


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