Time to refocus

  • Published
  • By Col. Alan H. Lerner
  • 512th Maintenance Group commander
It's time to FOCUS, and I don't mean the Facility Operation Capabilities and Utilization Study program, which is also an important and timely issue for us. It's time to get refocused on issues concerning the 512th Airlift Wing and Team Dover as some things may have been set aside during the winter months.

Requiring our immediate attention after the holidays was the 2010 Commander in Chief Installation Excellence Award competition. All of the hours put into planning, rehearsals, dry runs and area clean up during the month of January forced us to begin the new year running at a full sprint.

This article was written before the CINC IEA Team's visit, so I can't comment on the final outcome, but I certainly know about all the great things this base does with its assets to accommodate the vital and unique missions performed around the base. I do know that if Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, is selected as the winner then that's where I want to go for my next assignment; because, they would have to be the "perfect installation" to be selected over such an outstanding base as Dover.

The other area that needs our focus is safety. More specifically, ground safety. The key word in the 512th AW's mission statement is "delivering." We deliver more vital goods to the war effort than all other stateside airlift units combined. To do that as successfully as we do, all unit members must play a vital role.

Whether your role is producing properly configured aircraft, fueling, loading or flying those aircraft; or providing personnel or other base services, we are all leaning forward to accomplish these tasks in a timely manner. Just take a look at the vast amount of tonnage being moved everyday through the aerial port, even after losing a major automated lifting system within this huge facility. Adaptability and professionalism overcame adversity to the point that the same amount of tonnage is being moved now as was before the system failure.

However, even this impressive example has potential for adverse issues. That's because by concentrating only on completing the task at hand in a timely manner, ground safety could possibly be completely overlooked.

We all have important jobs to perform in order to accomplish our mission, but we still need to focus on safety while performing our duties. Also, we should have an expectation that our work centers are safe and that we should be able to go home at the end of the day with all of our teeth, fingers and toes still attached.

Aircraft maintainers have Technical Orders that spell out step-by-step how to accomplish taskings, but other career fields may not have job guides. The good news is we all have other tools available to help keep us safe, such as Operational Risk Management and other related programs, such as Crew Resource Management and Maintenance Resource Management. Use these available tools and maintain your situational awareness while working. All of us have a responsibility to call attention to, and stop unsafe practices when seen. A true wingman would.