Continued Focus on Priorities Will Ensure Success in 2016

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Norton
  • EADS
In last month's Sector newsletter, Chief Rojo and I each wrote about the events of 2015 and the many advances and accomplishments you all should be very proud of. This month's article looks forward to 2016.

As we look ahead, we are guided by the Vision, Mission and Priorities we developed and published last year. All our efforts, in some way, pursue our Vision: "We will detect and defeat the next air attack on America." That is why we are here. That vision focuses our efforts and inspires us toward excellence. Our EADS Mission Statement describes the capability EADS provides to the nation: "Counter all air threats to EADS' assigned Area of Operations through vigilant detection, rapid warning and precise tactical control of NORAD/USNORTHCOM forces." Finally, your diligent efforts in support of our five key priorities ensure we will fulfill our Mission and Vision. To briefly review, those priorities cover the steady state mission, surge capacity, mission training, recruit/retain and quality of life, and continuous improvement.

In 2016, our steady state mission will include the additional operational tempo of a presidential campaign season. Both conventions will take place in the Eastern AO in July, the Republican one in Cleveland and Democratic convention in Philadelphia. To better defend the nation's capital, we will continue to optimize the integration of advanced sensors and ERSA to build our NCR air picture. FPCON Bravo appears to be the new steady state Force Protection level -- the initiative to upgrade Security Forces from a flight to a squadron will help ensure our defenders continue to meet their challenges. Our nascent cyber forces strive to be prepared to meet an ever-evolving cyber threat.

Our surge capacity was considerably boosted by notable progress in recruiting drill status guardsmen. Our DSG fill rates have climbed from 77 percent one year ago to our current 116 percent! This is helping to relieve the pressure on our SF. The 224 ADS is working diligently to ensure our ops floor and work stations can support surge operations as well as separate ops training. At that same time, squadron commanders are asking more of our DSGs in terms of readiness and time commitment. A highly engaged part-time force is the "new normal" for the Air National Guard.

Training remains a major challenge due to our high ops tempo. Ops and Support have important training initiatives that should begin to bear fruit in 2016. 224 ADS is working initiatives to gain contract instructor positions and a mission training center, supporting a unit priority to provide better focused training in order to reduce the mission risk inherent in a "sim-over-live" environment. Our training paradigm will also continue to emphasize a reenergized focus to sharpen our own operational skills, as well as our NORAD partners.

The spirit of continuous improvement has clearly taken hold as we make the Air Force Inspection System (AFIS) part of our steady state operations. The ACC IG Team will be here from Oct. 18-21 to conduct our Capstone Unit Effectiveness Inspection in order to validate our execution of AFIS. We've made considerable progress in implementing both MICT and our inspection program.  We still need to focus on self-identifying and documenting areas of non-compliance so limited resources can be applied effectively to reduce risk of mission failure.

Many innovations and initiatives are being proposed and implemented at all levels of our organization and are having a measurable impact on mission and morale. I am repeatedly impressed with your commitment to making things better and am very confident we will accomplish great things in 2016!