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Inspection rescheduled for 2008

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- With one phone call to Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander, Air Education and Training Command officials rescheduled the wing's Operational Readiness Inspection to match up with the 463rd Airlift Group's inspection, set to take place in April 2008.

"I was notified Friday that the AETC commander and vice commander concurred with our recommendation to link up AETC's and Air Mobility Command's ORIs at Little Rock," said General Self.

Up until this year, AETC has been doing a base ORI every two years, the wing proposed inspections in conjunction with 463rd AG's ORI, which is on a three year cycle.

What turned the tide, the general said, were the accomplishments of the Little Rock team.

"Since the 'Excellent' inspection in 2004, Little Rock has been the gem in AETC's crown garnering major command and Air Force recognition at the unit and individual level," General Self said. "And in recognition of what you have accomplished as an incredible team over the last year, we are cancelling the August and September exercises and freeing that time for leave and other unit requirements."

This initiative began several months ago, but was reinforced during AETC Commander Gen. William R. Looney III's Civic Leader tour here in June.

"During General Looney's stay with us, we had the opportunity to share some ideas that made 'smart operating' sense," said General Self. "We were able to demonstrate how Little Rock supports both AMC and AETC and is inspected repeatedly by both commands.

For example, the 314th Mission Support Group and 314th Medical Group are accountable in both inspections.

"By combining these intensive events into a single inspection we save money, manpower and, in the end, reduce the wear and tear on our facilities and people," he said.

The general said AETC was also impressed by how well the wing has performed in the face of grounded aircraft and manpower reductions.

"We have creatively managed the fleet ensuring combat-ready crews continue to graduate. As recently as June, we not only overcame the 600-plus training event deficit, but we also achieved a 100 percent on-time graduation rate for the first time in years," said General Self. "Did I mention that we were the International Hub for Hurricane Katrina Relief and performed essential logistical support for 29 countries and processed 1,963 tons of relief supplies during this period? Nothing seems to detract from our readiness."

The wing inspector general, Col. Don Wilhite, was quick to point out to AETC leadership that the 314th also won the "Best C-130 Wing" and "Best Air Drop Wing" at the 2005 International Rodeo competition.

Other accomplishments include: The 314th Maintenance Group garnering the 2005 Daedalian Award for the best maintenance group in AETC, 314th Civil Engineer Squadron being named the best civil engineering squadron in the Air Force and 314th MDG being honored for surpassing Air Force metrics, leaving headquarters with nothing to critique or criticize.

"I didn't add the multitude of individual achievements and award winners," said General Self. "There are plenty more, but the (AETC) IG didn't have any more ink. They just said, 'Great, see you in 2008.'"

"The confidence AETC has placed in this wing is a tremendous reflection on the professionalism of the men and women who comprise the 314th AW," said Colonel Wilhite.

General Self said ORIs are a necessary tool to ensure a unit's capability to do the mission and its compliance with policies and instructions. The only way for commanders to assess their readiness is to inspect them.

"I've never been in a unit that got a 'pass on an ORI,' particularly a wing of this size and responsibility," said General Self. "It's not given lightly or without careful consideration of the risks by higher headquarters.

"Well, this wing has been inspected, exercised, trained and tested for 10 months leading to what I believe to be outstanding results. Take the cancelling of the ORI as recognition of your excellence from the flightline to the main gate. But this isn't the time to forget what we are working toward," the general said.

"I expect to keep the same level of professionalism that makes Little Rock 'the gem' and the mission readiness that has earned us a break. It's a lot of work total on the leading edge, but the view from out front is always better.

"Congratulations, take a deep breathe, smile and pat a teammate on the back. Now let's get ready for the air show."
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