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Commanders Column - April

108ARW -- April is here and with it comes all the changes of the spring and summer seasons. Normally it's the change we look forward to all winter long, the start of beautiful weather and outside activities. However, this April 1st the 108th Air Refueling Wing had to weather significant manpower and mission changes of its own. Three new missions kicked into full gear: the new Mobility Air Forces (MAF) Intelligence Squadron, the Contingency Response Group (CRG) and the 227th Maintenance Flight. Conversely, our Air Refueling mission was reduced by an entire flying squadron along with the losses of associated mission support personnel.
In the 108th Maintenance Group, we are excited to once again participate in the great mission of the 227th Special Operations Flight (SOF). We have more than 30 maintainers and supply personnel assigned to ensure we have mission ready aircraft in support of the 227 SOF. These missions within the 108 ARW add exciting opportunities for all our personnel and a chance for unit members displaced by the reduction to find a new home. The new opportunities coupled with our continuing air refueling mission will drive us to keep our focus on recruiting and retention. Despite our reduction in manpower authorizations we will need to continue to work hard on bringing new faces into the 108 ARW.
Lt. Col. Richard "Blind" Buckley will retire on May 1 and I look forward to the opportunity to serve as commander of the 108th Maintenance Group. It has been truly exciting to work with Lt. Col. Buckley for many years and we all wish him well in retirement.
We face many changes and challenges on the horizon. With each one, we will rethink how we do business to ensure we are efficient and effective. In the near future, our group will be renamed to the 108th Material Group and the 108th Logistic Readiness Squadron will be realigned under this new group. In maintenance, we need to focus on our "attention to detail" and mishap prevention. Never let the many constraints we face everyday or the pressure for mission accomplishment distract us from strict compliance to technical orders or our focus on ensuring a safe environment. As with any change, there will be "growing pains" that we will need to work through. I am confident that we are up to the challenges and welcome the opportunity to be part of this transformation.
We have several inspections on our plate over the next 18 months and the preparations have already started. Our conversion to the "newer" KC-135R is almost complete and we have three new missions to get to Fully Operational Capable (FOC). This will prove to be a spring and summer full of action and opportunity for all of us in the 108th Air Refueling Wing. I look forward to the 108 Maintenance Group working together and tackling the many challenges ahead.