By Col. Jacob L. Hammons, Commander, 152nd Airlift Wing, 152nd Airlift Wing
/ Published June 05, 2020
The 152nd Airlift Wing Commander, Col. Jacob L. Hammons, held his commander's call in front of an audience of 10 on May, 26, 2020. The event was recorded and packaged into a video that will be played during each unit's roll call at their first unit training assembly since the 2019 Coronoavirus pandemic was declared.
Since March, the 152nd Airlift Wing has been working with the Joint Task Force in support of COVID-19 response. While this support is ongoing, our mandate to maintain readiness within the Wing is also required. We must balance the risk to our mission readiness with our risk to the force. Through a deliberate planning process, we made the difficult decisions to postpone April drill, conduct a virtual May drill, and proceed with a modified Super Drill in June. Throughout this process, commanders and senior enlisted leaders, with the consult of healthcare professionals, have made judicial risk calculations to ensure operational safety and health protection.
We have implemented DoD and CDC protocols for HPCON-C, telework policies and process improvements to work shift scheduling in order to minimize large gatherings of Airmen within our work centers. We need to remain cognizant of our operational imperatives for readiness, with our MAFFS Spring Training later in June and heading into MAFFS season. That is why it is important that we conduct June drill – to get hands-on training. However, I recognize that we will all be a little “rusty” as we get back into our AFSC-specific skills training, so I am asking each of you to keep two focus areas in mind during drill.
June Drill Focus #1: Safety -- “Back to Basics”
First, we can ensure a safer environment through strict adherence to the HPCON protocols. Pre-entry medical screening, six-foot social distancing, mask wearing when within six-feet of another Airman, frequent sanitization through hand-washing and disinfecting of work spaces, and minimization of group gatherings to ten or less are all required protocols that each of you must follow while on base. We must do everything we can as individuals to ensure we do not have a case of COVID-19 occur during drill. Many of you will be working shifts to minimize the amount of personnel on base at one time. Please have patience and be respectful of those enforcing these protocols.
Next, for many of us, it has been several months since our last drill. This is the time to take it slow, not rush back in at a full-speed pace. Be methodical, follow your checklists, your AFI guidance and think about the foundational skills within your AFSC. We cannot afford any safety incidents, on or off-duty, during drill.
A Wing Special Interest Item (SII) for aircrew is “Back to Basics” and will be signed off by all aircrew prior to flying. Additionally, a Safety Video focused on our force recovery operations is to be viewed by every member at Roll Call prior to first duty.
June Drill Focus #2: Mental Wellness – Suicide Prevention
Times of uncertainty such as this can be extremely stressful. Some of you have lost jobs, and all of us have been isolated to some extent. We cannot discount the mental impacts this can have, and please know that it is okay if you have been impacted and are feeling dismay over what has occurred the past few months.
The Wing Resilience Team (Chaplain, DPH) are available during drill for counseling. They have also created an excellent video to be viewed by all members during the Roll Call prior to duty. Your supervisors will also be covering part of the SAPR 2020 Commander’s Talking Points, part of which is Suicide Prevention Training. Pay attention to this training and ask questions if you don’t understand.
Also, I ask that you watch out for your Wingman and be empathetic to those around you. They may be struggling and just need someone to talk to, so be that good Wingman – you never know what difference it could make. We can’t afford to lose any of you to despair or worse. You are a valuable part of the High Roller Family.
I hope that you all have a GREAT drill and enjoy reconnecting with Airmen you may not have seen in a while. Be safe, Be Kind to each other and let’s work our way into the “New Normal”.
Livin’ High, Flyin’ Low,