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November Commanders Column

  • Published
  • By Maj Dennis Phile, Commander 108th MXS
  • 108th Maintenance Squadron

With constant rising tensions around the world, our military’s state of readiness is on the minds of our senior leadership across the Department of the Defense. As a new squadron commander, I have learned that I must be a professional allocator of risk in order to achieve readiness. On a daily basis, the Maintenance Group’s leadership team manages our capabilities to meet our missions while maintaining our aircraft and equipment readiness.  Aircraft and equipment readiness is the maintenance mission!  As leaders, we must find the right balance of time management and risk allocation to meet our missions. To succeed in our maintenance mission, all levels of supervision place emphasis on safety, quality, and timeliness in the performance of maintenance. However, you must take the time to do a job right the first time.   The concept of quality maintenance must be fostered by each supervisor and technician to ensure the integrity and skill of each maintainer is not degraded. Planning provides the most effective and efficient use of people, facilities, and equipment, reduces unscheduled maintenance, and allows for progressive actions toward maintaining and returning aircraft and equipment to safe operating condition. In order to have quality maintenance being performed, good maintenance discipline must be practiced. These practices should be echoed across the Wing to ensure our members receive AFSC training while maximizing time utilization for all the other competing training requirements.

As the 108th Maintenance Squadron Commander, I am excited to lead the squadron that gave me one of the greatest opportunities of my life. Since, I come from a military family with deep roots in the Air National Guard. This opportunity helped me honor my greatest mentor in life, my grandfather, Chief Master Sergeant William Phile. My grandfather served 42 years in the military, mainly as a technician in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He was part of the initial cadre that stood-up the 193rd Special Operations Group in Harrisburg, PA. He also told me to pick any career field other than aircraft maintenance. However, I chose a different path, and I embraced the idea of being an aircraft mechanic. In 1994, I joined the Active Duty Air Force as an Aircraft Electro-Environmental Systems Specialist, and I was assigned to McGuire AFB working on KC-10s. A small 108th Wing recruiting sign started my Air Guard career in 1998 when I enlisted into the 108th Maintenance Squadron. In 2004, I earned a commission while assigned to the squadron. Over the years as a maintenance officer, I have gained much experience while serving in every unit in the Maintenance Group including the past 5 years in charge of the 150th Maintenance Flight.

Now, as a squadron commander, I must ensure personnel and equipment are identified and prepared to deploy for taskings. To increase our capabilities, we will train at home-station the same way we deploy by embracing the Maintenance Team Concept. This will allow maintainers to receive training outside their primary maintenance AFSC. The use of Cross Utilization Training will increase our maintenance manpower effectiveness by building more capable aircraft mechanics. To maintain our unit’s readiness, we must focus on our AFSC proficiency training. To do so, I will continue to instill the aircraft maintenance values that I have been taught over my 23 years career into our maintainers. We, as Airmen, must ensure the 108th Wing is ready and proficient to meet the challenges of the taskings that lie ahead.