Wing commander reviews 2005

  • Published
  • By Col. Bryan Benson
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
Congratulations Team Vance on a very successful year.
As we close out the year and you prepare to celebrate the holiday season, I hope you take time to reflect on the successes of the year as well as areas to improve.
You succeeded in so many ways -- you completed a rigorous 55,000-plus sortie and 81,000-plus flying-hour program resulting in an unprecedented third consecutive award of the Brigadier General Frank P. Lahm Trophy for Air Education and Training Command's Best Flight Safety program. We are on track to finish the year without a fatal ground mishap. We received three major Air Force and AETC inspections -- a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization inspection of our 71st Medical Group rated as "Excellent," a Health Services inspection score of 89 resulting in "Best Seen to Date," and an AETC Operational Readiness Inspection resulting in a "Excellent" rating. We also received an AETC and State of Oklahoma Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment Management Program rated as "Outstanding." We deployed 42 people throughout the world during that same period and brought every person home safely.
The quality of our people has never been better. This year, 23 people received higher headquarters level awards -- including the Air Force Company Grade Chaplain of the Year, AETC Female Athlete of the Year and AETC Instructor Pilot of the Year. We promoted 253 of our 1,200 uniformed members and graduated 410 new U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy pilots.
We also had a record year for improving our base infrastructure. We not only survived the Base Realignment and Closure process, but will increase our mission by 25 T-6 and T-38 aircraft, more than 120 permanent party members, an Oklahoma Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve unit and more than $50 million in planned associated construction. We dedicated 54 of the nicest housing units in the U.S. Air Force in May for our enlisted members and went far to privatize the remaining 175 units. We started construction on our $15 million consolidated logistics center and new post office, built the Gott Road extension to Southgate Road, and we're on track to fund $14 million in new construction for 2006. Furthermore, the command approved a new $6.4 million runway at Kegelman Auxillary Airfield, more than $3 million for improvements to our medical group facilities, a $500,000 addition to the snack bar at the bowling alley and hundreds of thousands in improvements to our unaccompanied officer and enlisted quarters. Wow -- It has been an incredible year.
That said, we have room to improve. Sadly, we had 18 alcohol-related incidents and that is 18 too many. Each resulted in disciplinary action, embarrassment to the service, an erosion in faith and confidence by the public and a professional setback for the individual. I'm convinced we can improve with better "wingman consideration" and increased individual discipline. Also, despite the high quality of people I mentioned above, we lagged the command in promotion rates for four of the 10 grades.
The command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Jim Suttles, and I are committed more than ever to improve this statistic. We are focused on increasing the quality of training and training oversight, limiting station tours to five years, improving preparation and opportunities for in-residence professional military education and ensuring performance reports, awards and decorations are both timely and accurate. We need you to do your part. On behalf of Chief Suttles and myself, thanks for a great year. Enjoy a safe holiday season and plan on arriving back ready to fly, fight and win!