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Looking back can help us in moving forward

62nd Airlift Wing Vice Commander

Published: 03:08PM January 25th, 2018
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U.S. Air Force Photo

Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs taxi and line up on the McChord Field flightline on Joint Base Lewis-McChord during Mobility Guardian Aug. 2.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to take stock of our accomplishments, challenges and re-cage our expectations for the future. Last year, the 62nd Airlift Wing’s accomplishments were vast and varied — we provided combat airlift, humanitarian relief and supported U.S. interests on every continent.

Our Airmen, along with the other 5,000 total force, Team McChord Airmen, executed our mission sets around the world with unmatched precision and professionalism.

The wing’s mission is combat airlift. Our Airmen take immense pride in this mission as we enable our joint and coalition partners to execute their warfighting mission anywhere around the globe at any time.

When a C-17 lands on a far-flung airstrip or screams across a remote drop zone, our service members, allies and adversaries alike know that aircraft represents the strength and resolve of the United States.

A green McChord Field tail flash on that C-17 Globemaster III sends an even more unambiguous message that the best aircrew, maintainers and support personnel in the world stand behind that mission.

In 2017, our Airmen executed 1,900 missions, 7,200 flying hours, 1,500 combat flying hours and airlifted 39,000 passengers — an astounding 33 percent of Air Mobility Command’s total airlift.

We resupplied the National Science Foundation in Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze, and flawlessly executed our prime nuclear airlift force mission. As the sole nuclear airlift squadron for the Air Force, we flew 28 missions, transported 655,000 pounds of cargo and supported nine nuclear inspections with zero delays.

The wing, along with our partners in the 446th Airlift Wing and 627th Air Base Group, delivered aid and provided command and control to the hurricane-devastated Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico region. More than 40 airlift missions and 500 flying hours supported relief operations, while 4.9 million pounds of cargo and 900 passengers were airlifted.

The 62nd AW flew the first C-17 into St. Thomas after Hurricane Irma and transported 50 Federal Emergency Management Agency urban search and rescue personnel, ground equipment and supplies to the badly damaged island.

McChord Field also hosted Mobility Guardian 2017, Air Mobility Command’s largest mobility exercise in history. We coordinated 54 aircraft from 25 nations and 2,637 participants with zero safety mishaps.

We maintained a remarkable 96.6 percent departure reliability rate, flew more than 668 sorties, offloaded 1.2 million pounds of fuel and airlifted 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of cargo. Mobility Guardian 2017 set the pace for a dynamic mission set, enabling us to train like we fight and setting the benchmark for mobility exercises in the future.

No other installation in the world has the ability to project such a broad spectrum of mission sets globally. Looking back, the 62nd AW did some very heavy lifting for our comparatively small footprint on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

While we can, and should, proudly reflect on our accomplishments, we must ensure that we continually prepare for tomorrow’s fight as new threats emerge and old ones evolve. Unlike most professions, our daily inbox is shaped by the headlines splashed across the news.

Tomorrow’s challenges and our adversaries won’t wait while we bask in what we did. It was a great year, but this year will be even better and likely tougher.

Fortunately our Airmen always rise to new challenges, accept new mission sets and establish standards that other units across the Department of Defense aspire to. There is no other group of Airmen I’d rather face the new year and new challenges with.