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From motto to mission

  • Published
  • By Dan Knickrehm
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Historian
The 43 AW motto "Willing, Able, Ready" is being put to the test during the ongoing Operation Unified Reponse. The originators of that motto chose it partially because it indicated by its acronym "WAR." the unit's willingness, ability and preparedness to go to war. Even so, the words still apply to humanitarian relief. When our country called on us to support earthquake stricken Haitians the 43d's focus changed from motto to mission.

Our mission statement consists of three parts. The first part is "Support joint forces contingency outload and in-garrison operation/training requirements." While the 82nd Airborne Division isn't going to war we are performing our mission to get them out of Pope to where they can utilize their skills to enact the will of the American public. In this case we supported the 82nd Abn. Div.'s mandate to aid the people of Haiti.

The second part of our mission statement is to "Provide worldwide air mobility capabilities across the spectrum of military operations." Military operations include supporting humanitarian relief efforts. This facet of military operations has been around for a long time. With specific reference to the air component of humanitarian relief, there are accounts of this occurring as early as September 1919 when Army Air Service planes from Kelly Field in Texas dropped food supplies to flood victims along the Rio Grande. Since then all military services have been called on to support the needs of those experiencing difficulties across the globe. There have been U.S. military supported humanitarian relief efforts carried out on every continent. Our efforts in Haiti is just the most recent example of many.

The third part of the 43rd AW mission statement states that we will "Execute Pope Air Force Base's realignment in compliance with BRAC mandate." BRAC is an ongoing process and the recent efforts of Pope's Airmen have become an important part of that process. Leadership in the wing is putting together "lessons learned" packages that will, in part, begin to address how a humanitarian mission similar to Operation Unified Response will be supported if necessary on the future post-BRAC Pope Field.

Not only are we accomplishing our mission we are also meeting the goals of our vision statement. The first part of the 43 AW vision statement is that we see ourselves as the "Air Force's premier Airlift Group for enroute operations." There can be no doubt that in the course of Unified Response Pope AFB was the base to go to. During the surge effort to get humanitarian aid to Haiti there were 35 open slots for AMC landings in Port-au-Prince and Pope was given priority to fill all they could. Our efforts nearly took all those slots on 20 Jan when we launched 32 missions for Haitian relief with a 93.75 percent departure reliability.

The second part of our vision statement "model for joint and total force partnership" was the subject of my article in a previous edition of the Carolina Flyer called "Making History." If you don't want to go back and read that article just know this, in the course of one mission I saw Army, active duty Air Force, reserve Air Force and Air Force civilians all focused on the same mission. That mission and others like it symbolized this portion of the 43d's vision statement. Also consider that of the numerous units who were augmented by other units in the Air Force the 3d APS had a total of 53 personnel from two different bases helping them on Green Ramp. Also, just looking at all the different aircraft tails on Green Ramp was visual evidence of our vision statement in action.

The final part of the 43d's vision statement is more difficult to nail down. Establishing Pope as a "sought-after place to work and live" is a concept that must be internalized by everyone on Pope and others as well. If you don't have a healthy sense of pride, self-worth and accomplishment after all we have done, and continue to do, for our country and others you should ask someone to help you better understand your role in the great things we are all doing here at Pope.