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Are You Ready?

Posted 1/7/2013   Updated 1/7/2013 Email story   Print story


by Col. John W. Pearse
8th Fighter Wing commander

1/7/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When I was growing up, we used to play hide and seek outside. When the child who was "it" finished counting, they would say, "ready or not, here I come." Some children who were indecisive about finding a hiding spot would sometimes say "I'm not ready." Unfortunately, ready or not meant just that.

In the profession of arms, we are also placed in a position of ready or not. We must be ever vigilant because we do not get a second chance. We must be ready to "Fight Tonight." Part of the Airman's Creed we all recite says, "I will never fail." Are You Ready?
What does ready mean? The 7th AF mission is to deter, protect and defend the Republic of Korea. The Kunsan mission nests directly with the 7th AF mission. Our mission is to "Defend the Base," "Accept Follow-On Forces" and "Take the Fight North."

Defend the base involves not just the 8th Security Forces Squadron defending the base perimeter. It also means every member of the Wolf Pack being proficient at Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) procedures. ATSO proficiency ensures everyone can do their primary job. It also prevents you from becoming a casualty other Wolf Pack members would need to care for. Fitness is another important area of defending the base. We must be prepared to operate with ATSO and personal protective gear for an extended period of time.

You will need to be physically fit to sustain operations under these conditions. If you're not fit, you'll let your Wolf Pack team members down. If you collapse under the strain, other members of the Wolf Pack will be detracted from their primary job while they provide care to you.

Mental preparation is arguably the most important aspect of being ready. Many in the Wolf Pack have deployed to the Central Commands Area of Responsibility (CENTCOM AOR.) Deployment notification normally occurred months in advance. Various training events were required to prepare for the deployment. During deployment into theater you normally had a few days of orientation andin processing before going to work in the deployed environment. You had a lot of time to mentally make the shift into the deployed combat environment.

The Korean peninsula is a forward deployed location. Although we enjoy a time of peace now, the shift to combat operations can occur very quickly with little to no warning. We all need to have that possibility thought through ahead of time to lessen the shock of a quick transition. Mental preparation also involves taking care of any administrative loose ends like having a will, a power of attorney, etc. These details need to be taken care of ASAP so they don't act as parasites on your attention should we enter into contingency operations. Are You Ready?

Accept follow-on involves more than just bedding down additional forces, although that will be a large part of it. The base population will nearly triple in size. You won't have your own private dorm room but will need to bunk with three or four other people. You need to be mentally prepared for that type of hardship for an extended period of time. In addition to the follow on forces, we will be accepting large quantities of munitions and supplies on aircraft as well as trucks from around the peninsula. We will need to absorb all this material in stride as we continue combat operations. Some people will need to augment this reception process working out of their comfort zone. Are You Ready?

Take the fight north primarily involves the operations of the Wolf Pack F-16 Fighting Falcons's. The ability to project that combat power to the north involves efforts from a multitude of units around the base and not just the operations or maintenance groups. Do you understand what your primary job is during contingency operations? Do you understand how you enable the F-16 Fighting Falcon's to go north? Are You Ready?

The Wolf Pack mission ties directly to our purpose for being here in Korea...Deter, Defend and Defeat. I add another D to that purpose with Develop. Just because you are on a one year remote tour does not mean you take a year off from developing as an Airmen or as a human being.

I highly encourage Airmen to earn the time away from friends and loved ones and return home with something tangible you can show for the time you were gone. Learn a new skill, take some classes, learn a language, improve your physical fitness, travel around to learn the culture, etc.

Find something productive you want to work on. Once you have figured that out, make a plan for how you will accomplish it. Kunsan is a very busy place. You will lose all sense of time with the pace we keep here. You need to be deliberate and craft a plan for what you want to accomplish during your tour here.

Are You Ready? What are you developing during your year away from friends and loved ones? Stay true to your creed and ensure you "will never fail."

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