Commander's Commentary August
By Col. Joseph J. Brandemuehl, 115 FW Commander
/ Published September 02, 2009
August 2009 -- First off, I'd like to thank everyone for a very successful Mega-UTA and Family Day during the June UTA. Family Day was the highlight of the UTA, and it would not have been a great success without the hard work of countless volunteers. I would personally like to thank everyone who sacrificed their personal time for our Guard Family. We all know that we cannot be "Mission Ready" without the support and sacrifices of our families.
From ancillary training to fitness testing, the Mega-UTA went very well. We accomplished a great deal and it set the foundation for pressing forward with the AEF deployment next month. This UTA will feature a good deal of the processing required for the AEF. As always, be prepared and be patient. The people who arrange the processing are very good at their jobs, but there are a lot of you to get through the system. Be prepared, have your prerequisites done, get your paperwork in order before you go to process, be on time, and be patient. We need to get this processing done now, so we are ready to go when we get the official "launch date". Finally, I'd like to thank all of you who are stepping up to the AEF deployment. The 115th Fighter Wing has excelled in all previous AEF rotations, and I fully expect this AEF will be the same...living up to our standard of "Dedicated to Excellence".
OG Change of Command. The 115th Operations Group has changed commanders. Col. Dave Romuald has accepted the position of State Director of Operations for the WI ANG, taking over from the retiring Col. Chris Helstad. Col. Romuald has been the Ops Group Commander since December 2006, and has led the Ops Group to new levels of excellence. The 115th Operations Group has developed a national reputation for being combat seasoned professionals with a strategic vision for future fighter operations. Great job Col. Romuald, and congratulations on your new position.
As of August 1st, the command of the 115th Operations Group is now in the hands of Col. Jeff Wiegand. Col. Wiegand is one of our most experienced F-16 pilots (see the story on page 16 about him achieving 3000 flying hours in the F-16) and has demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout every level of his military career. I have full confidence in his ability to carry on the Ops Group reputation and vision. The official change of command ceremony will take place on Saturday of the August UTA.
Block 40 Conversion. Since I announced to you in the last BAM that we were slated to receive Block 40 F-16s, things have accelerated faster than, well, an F-16! We now expect to receive our first Block 40s this fall. By June of next year, we should have all 22 Block 40 jet on station - 20 C-models and 2 D-models. The jets are coming from Osan AB, Korea and Hill AFB, Utah. Likewise, our Block 40 conversion partner, the Colorado ANG at Buckley AFB, will receive their new jets from the same locations.
Our current Block 30s will be transferred to the DC ANG and Buckley's will go to Atlantic City, with those two units' "small inlet" Block 30s being retired to the boneyard. The logistics of moving all these aircraft is a marvel of coordination and, in advance, I'd like to thank all the people involved. This is an enormous task.
Once we get the jets on station, that is when the hard work begins. From the pilots' point of view, the Block 40 conversion should be fairly straight-forward, as the cockpits are nearly identical, with only minor avionics differences from our current jets. On the maintenance side, though, there will be some serious training involved, especially for the avionics, flight controls, and weapons people. Knowing our maintainers, though, I'm convinced they will soar through their training and come home ready to get to work. The Maintenance Group will have a lot of work to get the jets up to the 115th Fighter Wing standard. I have no doubt that they will meet the challenge and have these jets up to the highest standard for Block 40 maintenance.
Stay Focused. As you can tell, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us over the next 12 months. No matter what the challenge, whether AEF deployments or an F-16 conversion, we need to stay focus on the task at hand. First priority, and most important, is the AEF deployments. We have people's lives at stake, and we need to focus on every mission. Once we get home, we can start to focus on the F-16 conversion and beyond.
As always, stay focused, be professional, and be flexible. I know you will make the 115th Fighter Wing, the State, and the Air National Guard proud!