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It's time to focus on ORI

Col. Jay Pittman,
302nd Airlift Wing commander

Col. Jay Pittman, 302nd Airlift Wing commander

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- This is it. We are now just days away from the start of the ORI. We've been planning and preparing for this for quite some time. The ORE, which was held at the start of the June UTA, was a great opportunity for each of us to put our skills and preparations to the test in a deployed environment. The ORE demonstrated we are ready and exactly where we needed to be in each phase our deployment readiness.

While we were focused on our ORI preparations, The Waldo Canyon fire, in the foothills of Colorado Springs affected and posed significant challenges for many unit members, our families and community. For some, you and your families were evacuated from your homes and faced challenges like never before. For others, in your civilian job you may have been part of the fire fighting or support efforts. The intensity of this event was also unparalleled for the wing and its MAFFS mission. The Waldo Canyon fire marked the beginning of our Wing's support of the U.S. Forest Service's wildland fire fighting mission in 2012. As of September, MAFFS has supported fires in 10 states.

This year's season started out and continues to be a MAFFS season unlike no other in the 40-year history of MAFFS. On July 1, we tragically lost four aircrew members from the 145th Airlift Wing, N.C. Air National Guard and MAFFS 7 in a crash while they were supporting the White Draw fire near Edgemont, S.D. Our hearts go out to all who were affected by this accident. And as of late August, we had significantly surpassed our MAFFS drop totals from the past nine years. It's been an extremely busy time for our MAFFS aircrews and aircraft maintainers.

It is now time for us to regain our ORI focus and get back to our readiness and deployment mindset. Please stay in communication with your unit leadership, ensure you know what is expected of you and continue to put forth the excellent efforts that you have been throughout this process.

As a unit and as individuals, we have shown we are ready and capable to handle any and all challenges that arise. I am proud of each and every one of you and look forward to the outstanding achievements we will make as we soon deploy for our ORI.