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October Commander's Corner

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Wright, 169th Force Support Squadron commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for his portrait August 29, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Wright, 169th Force Support Squadron commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for his portrait August 29, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- As I sit back and recall when I took over as commander of the 169th Force Support Squadron (FSS) in January, I tried to tell everyone how busy each drill would be and how every member had to make the best of the limited time we had in preparation for the inspection. I breathe easier now that it is over, but these nine months have flown by.

As a first time commander, I had to become educated on all the various areas within the FSS, get to know the members that make up the unit, and learn how each member would fit into the upcoming inspection.

The extra emphasis from wing leadership for all commanders to know their Force Management plans for their members, played a key role ensuring we had a good look at each and every member. As a new commander, I trusted the officers and senior noncommissioned officers in place to provide necessary inputs. This year flew by and we made a conscious effort to prioritize our members who had retirements or estimated time of separations pending.

Over time, we found out that we had seven to ten vacancies, including senior NCO positions. We briefed the members of our findings and echoed a similar theme other SCANG members have heard - we would be filling the vacancies with those that prepared themselves by completing the required training and leadership schools. We informed them we were looking for members to step up and show us they were ready to take on the additional duties and responsibilities.

After the July exercise, we reviewed the discrepancies pointed out by our inspection team and assigned the noncommissioned officers in charge from those areas to break down every line in the report and plan a way forward. FSS members spent countless hours working to build continuity books and checklists. The biggest thing we stressed was that each member had to show up and take pride in each job or task they were assigned to do.

The efforts paid off because at the end of the inspection; PERSCO had their manning document with all players accounted for, Single Palletized Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) had two reliable burners and fed 180 personnel and Mortuary processed and maintained control of 15 Killed In Action personnel. In a short amount of time, with a tremendous amount of turnover, the 169th FSS finished with a Satisfactory.

The men and women of the 169th Fighter Wing played critical roles in helping FSS fix those discrepancies. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in this. Leadership allowed the use of down days so that sections could concentrate on inspection preparation. The extra time the KIAs spent at Mortuary during the exercises was helpful to FSS personnel so they could make sure their paperwork was correct. All those times of asking SCANG members for their v-REDs, AF Form 245s, middle names and blood types paid off because we had 100 percent of required documentation available. Thanks to our leadership and Wing Inspection Team (WIT) who spent countless hours running through command and control exercises to make sure our Unit Control Center (UCC) would be ready. Also thanks to the input I received to help me be a better commander.

FSS plans on using the results of this inspection as a foundation to better serve Swamp Fox members. We are excited to see the growth ahead and have a clear path for our training so that we can be prepared for anything that may come up in the future. As you read this, a top to bottom review is under way to make sure that every member will be ready to tackle the challenges ahead. We have put the onus on our team to again step forward and volunteer for opportunities they are excited about. I encourage you to do the same. If you saw training opportunities from this past inspection or areas that could use some improvement, I challenge you to ask your leadership for the opportunity to address it. Our wing will continue to be at the leading edge when our Airmen continue to step forward to make good things happen.

In the near future, the wing will complete a Phase 1 review/inspection. Once again. 169th FSS will only be successful with your support. As the Personnel Deployment Function sets up processing lines, we ask that you double check your personal information to make sure all of your training is complete and all your squares are filled. This will in turn help the processing go smoother.

As the 169th Force Support Squadron Commander, I can definitely say this is another memorable time in my 25 years as a Swamp Fox.