Friday, July 18, 2008

VIEW FROM THE TOP >> Job #1: core tasks and getting ‘back to basics’

By Col. Mark Vlahos
314th Airlift Wing vice commander

Every day I turn on my computer, I see the words: “Team Little Rock: Home of Combat Airlift!” On a piece of paper taped to my wall are these words: “Train and deploy the world’s best C-130 and C-21 Combat Airlifters.”

I hope that everyone recognizes this as our base vision and 314th Airlift Wing mission statement. The 463rd Airlift Group has a similar vision statement: “Unrivaled total force aerial delivery…combat ready, combat proven!”

Many times, I find myself paraphrasing our 314th AW mission statement by saying every day, job #1 will always be fixing and flying safe airplanes. If you don’t know how your job fits in and supports this mission statement, then I challenge you to ask your first-line supervisor the question. It is from our mission statement that all of our core tasks and functions are derived. All of us are part of a team that produces far more than we ever can fathom on our own; this is synergy—the key to mission success.

Getting back to basics is getting back to our core tasks. Every time a C-130 takes off from our runway, there is a huge support tail that went into that aircraft getting airborne. Think about it: the sortie and associated support for that mission was scheduled weeks ago. Whether you work in the medical group, services, aerial delivery, or the Mission Support Squadron you, too, touched that mission.

While our maintainers, aerial terminal operations types, security forces and aircrew members are on the two-mile swatch of concrete every day, if these folks were not being cared for, fed, receiving pay, qualified or had the tools, supplies and equipment to do their job, that C-130 would never take off. If that training sortie does not take off, the 463rd Airlift Group goes short of personnel to fly that combat mission.

Every day, each one of us needs to focus on executing our core tasks safely and efficiently. Checklist discipline is imperative when lives are at stake. I know we all take pride in the professional job we do daily. Getting back to basics is this daily focus: taking care of people and airplanes. Something as simple as writing a evaluation on time is a basic core task — for supervisors, it’s probably the most important thing you do for your Airmen. Our job is to mentor and train our replacements.

While Brigadier General Schatz is on temporary duty to CAPSTONE the next six weeks, I want each of us to focus on getting back to basics and executing our core processes safely, efficiently and on time.

It’s an honor to be your commander the next six weeks. I look forward to coming to work each day focused on the mission. With the talent and team work we have here at the Rock, I have no doubts at all we will succeed.

Finally, on a much sadder note, this past Saturday we buried a Little Rock Air Force Base warrior. Mr. Joseph Rensing from our 314th Maintenance Group was laid to rest. Joseph was a retired Air Force master sergeant, and between his military and civilian services, gave 33 of the best years of life in defense of his country.

As I attended the funeral, I was very proud of our base Honor Guard and the number of Airmen who showed up wearing blue. It was a moment to remember. Joseph, we will miss you.

Let’s all have a safe and productive week! Thanks for all you do…Combat Airlift!


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