Will you be ready?

  • Published
  • By Col. John Oates
  • 97th AMW Operations Group
Will you be ready when you get that call? You know - the call you never expect, the call that will come from deep left field, and guaranteed to catch you off guard.

We are the best Air Force on this planet. We are that good because of our people and our processes. One common thread across the Air Force is we excel at our jobs. We know the expectations of our duty positions, how to achieve them and how to take care of each other better than anyone else. We work very well together and that is what makes us the best.

When the phone I mentioned above rings for you, it will not be a request for you to do your job. It will be a request above and beyond your expectations. "Will you be ready?" is a very tough question to answer because there is no way to know who or what will be on the other end of that call. You can't guess what the phone call will be about or when it will ring.

At 2 a.m. on January 17, 2010 my phone rang. It was the Chief of the Air Mobility Command Crisis Action Team from Scott Air Force Base. He needed our help. His curveball of a phone call was asking the C-17 formal school-house to provide aircraft and crews for operational humanitarian missions in support of the recently devastated island nation of Haiti. Our crews do not maintain operational readiness. It took a lot of work and effort by Team Altus to answer this call. Within 30 hours we were able to answer the call with six C-17 aircraft and 10 aircrews. It took a concerted effort by this entire Wing to accomplish events that do not regularly fall into our day-to-day job descriptions. In the end we delivered 1.5 million pounds of relief supplies and helped to evacuate 1,366 people back to the United States, so they could get the medical care they needed.

On March 20, 2011 my phone rang again. This time it was our own 19th Air Force Commander Major General Mark Solo. He needed the 97 Air Mobility Wing to provide two augmented crews and two C-17 aircraft to help Air Mobility Command meet the requirements of Operation Odyssey Dawn. March 22, 2011, the day our two crews departed Altus Air Force Base to join this operational mission, was the busiest single day on record, for Air Mobility Command. While it is not in our normal "job jar," we were able to answer that call and join in the fight.

We can try to be ready for that phone call - in part that is why we plan and exercise in our Wing. Exercises like active shooter, aircraft crashes, and severe weather responses help us to be prepared for the call.

Imagine a big picture on a wall, showing your outlook and responsibilities. The pictures on the wall of the Air Mobility Command Crisis Action Team Chief and on General Solo's wall were much larger than the picture on my wall. In their pictures they needed our help and that required my picture to be expanded. In hindsight, the 97 Air Mobility Wing responded to both of these calls in a phenomenal manner. Will you be ready when your phone rings?