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113th Wing passes ORI

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- The 113th Wing passed the Phase II Operational Readiness Inspection with an overall "satisfactory." The announcement was met with cheers and applause from those in attendance in an out brief in the wing auditorium July 22.
A Phase II ORI evaluates a unit's ability to perform wartime or contingency missions, which consist of employment, mission support and ability to survive and operate.
This is the first time in four years an F-16 Guard unit who is not attached to active duty has passed an ORI without having to retake it.
"We had to shift our focus a little bit to be more oriented to the gamesmanship of taking an ORI versus the way it really is in combat," said Col. George M. Degnon, 113th Operations Group commander. "We are always training for the same high standards day to day."
"The ORI was a great opportunity to build intensive teamwork toward one common goal," said Lt. Col. Paula F. Penson, 113th Medical Group Senior Administrator/Medical Administrator Officer. "The effort to get ready for the event really brought all of us together. So many times we are focused on just our areas - optometry, dental, physical exams, records - but this event broke down all those barriers and made us 'one team, with one fight.' We will be able to carry this attitude back into our normal operations as we support the upcoming deployments."
Colonel Degnon noted everyone in the wing - personnel, transportation, fuels, bomb builders, bomb loaders, crew chiefs, BRAT personnel - who helped the pilots get to the point where every missile they shot and every bomb they dropped was effective.
"In the end it was the pilot pushing the button to drop the bomb, but we didn't get there unless everyone else did their job," said Colonel Degnon. "It's a team effort and we did well because everyone else did their job to put us in the position to do our job."
To help prepare for the ORI the wing conducted six Operational Readiness Exercises from April 2006 to June 2009.
"There were many factors that enabled the 113th Mission Support Group and the entire wing to perform so well, but I believe the overarching reason is planning and practice," said Col. Daniel C. Shea, 113 MSG commander. "Tremendous energy was spent developing, debating and deciding on UTA plans - ensuring every facet of the ORI was touched on many occasions - and then the plans were put into practice during UTA's and the multiple OREs over the past two years. And with planning and practice, confidence increased as did our desire to prove to ACC/IG our capabilities. We were ready and eager for the IG to arrive."
Commanders noticed an improvement and the dedication that was put in by their personnel:
"We put the right people in place to ensure that we were set up for success and to excel during the inspection," said Lt. Col. Kirk S. Pierce, 121st Fighter Squadron commander. "These were often tough choices to make, but demonstrated how all on our team are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the squadron and the wing. The ORE and ORI experience placed an additional strain on our dedicated traditional Guardsmen and women, but they continually embraced the challenges presented and the higher demands on their valuable time to train."
"The ORI gave the 113 MSG the opportunity to practice and exercise our skills in a near war time environment," said Lt. Col. Reno J. Zisa, 113 MSG deputy commander. "The ACC/IG does a very good job of making the scenarios as authentic as possible. During the ORI all support systems were stressed to the point of failure. Our people showed - repeatedly - that we know our jobs and can adapt to any scenario to get the mission accomplished. The professionalism, dedication and sheer volume of work performed by the 113 MSG is astounding. The ORI gave us the opportunity to train, hone our skills and provide world-class support to the wing."
"We improved our programs and our processes and proved we are an extremely capable war-fighting organization," said Colonel Shea. "But most importantly, what I find most inspiring is we, 113 MSG and the entire wing, collectively were focused on a finite set of objectives and the entire organization bonded as I've never seen before in pursuit of those."
"We dramatically improved our self-confidence and the group's ability to work together as a team," said Col. Andrew J. Donnelly, 113th Maintenance Group commander. "We had some 'best seen to date' teams and some shining stars, but what I was the most proud of was the 'whatever it takes to succeed' attitude displayed by everyone in the 113 MXG. We could not have excelled without the help of the OG, MDG, 201st and MSG. Honestly, everyone's support and 'it's all about maintenance' mantra - whether forced or real - made the difference. We relied on the wing as much as we relied on our dedication to training, safety, and hard work to kick this thing in the a--. Additionally, there is a new found respect for others because we received so much help from the rest of the wing while preparing and while executing the ORI. I believe that will help the wing in the long run as we face new challenges as a one wing team."
"Our motto was: divide and conquer!" said Colonel Penson. "By dividing the burden of preparing for the ORI across every member of the unit, we were able to really focus on every aspect, such as training, equipping, and executing. Every individual knew they were important to the final outcome. Every individual knew that their individual performance would affect the overall 113 MDG grade and in many areas the wing's success, such as in SABC and ATSO. Therefore, everyone brought their 'A-game' to the effort."
"As a squadron we are very proud of the level of effort the entire wing put forward," said Colonel Pierce. "I was extremely impressed with the teamwork displayed by the entire fighter squadron and what I witnessed by many throughout the wing. I am thankful to all in the 121st who spent countless hours training, preparing and even deploying in order for us to succeed. Our pilots and mission support personnel received many accolades from the Inspector General concerning their tremendous level of effort and warrior ethos that demonstrates the level of greatness that we strive for each and every day. Although many complain about the lack of reality of an ORI war, we are taking many of our lessons learned from the ORI and utilizing them in our preparation for our upcoming combat AEF deployment."
The next mission for the 113 WG is preparing for the air and space expeditionary force (AEF.)
"We fought the ORI war, now we're starting to engage real combat," said Colonel Degnon.
"The 113th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 113th Force Support Squadron will work on getting people and equipment out the door as we prepare for AEF spin-up, AEF deployment and 113th Security Forces Squadron deployments," said Colonel Zisa. "The 113th Contracting Squadron will need to work closely with all wing functions on end of year closeout and the 113th Communications Flight and 113th Civil Engineer Squadron will resume work on Combat Information Transport System (CITS.) CITS will essentially involve replacement of the wing's entire information technology infrastructure. 113 CF, 113 CES and 113 CONS will also work out the final details on moving our Air Sovereignty Alert detachment to their new facility."
More than 40 personnel and more than 15 teams were chosen as superior performers, but only one person could be chosen as the top performer. Staff Sgt. Jay-Cheree C. Edwards, 113 LRS War Readiness technician, was that Airman. She was presented an ACC IG coin by Brig. Gen. Mark A. Barrett, ACC inspector general.
"It is an honor to be recognized as achieving such a high standard," said Sergeant Edwards. "When I was identified as the top performer I was extremely excited because my goal was to come into the ORI as a team-player helping the organization pass. With the assistance of my team, we were able to attain the grade of "excellent." Staying late and working extra days was really worth the effort because if there is no dedication, there are no rewards. I knew that I did not have to be that dedicated, but I am a person who does not look for rewards and benefits for anything that I do. At the end of the day, I have to look at myself and answer the question, 'Did I do the best that Jay-Cheree is capable of doing?' After being successful with the ORI I can honestly say, 'Yes I have done my very best!'"