117 ARW Mission and Vision - They Mean Something!

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --

117 ARW Mission

Provide quality worldwide air refueling, airlift, support, logistics, intelligence and medical services in support of our community, state and nation.

 117 ARW Vision

A world-class team of empowered men & women committed to continuous improvement and excellence, operating as the model Air National Guard unit into the twenty-first century.

I remember fondly when the mission and vision statements of the 117 ARW were conceived (circa 1998).   I was a First Lieutenant at the time and was allowed to participate (to be more precise, I was allowed to observe and at least be in the room) with wing leadership - commanders, senior NCOs, and first sergeants.

It was the era of Total Quality Management (TQM).  Some of the attributes of TQM have been retained over the years under different names along with new ideas; however, the importance of an organization's mission and vision are timeless and enduring.

Mission and vision statements are established by the leadership of an organization.  The organization can be government, a company, a civic organization, a club or an association.  Mission and vision statements should be prominently displayed for all members of the organization to see.

The mission statement establishes exactly what the organization is supposed to do.  Any effort considered to be undertaken should be checked against the mission statement and if not contained in it should not be pursued unless leadership updates the mission statement to include the proposed effort.

The vision statement is a description of what the organization is desired to be in the future.  The vision statement should reflect an improvement over the current state, may require achievement of stretch goals in order to get there and may specify a stated target date or be indefinite.  The vision statement should be positive, inspire members of the organization and contribute in a positive way to society.

Values, goals and objectives can also be established that support the mission and vision statements.

Consider a few major changes and events that have occurred since the creation of the 117 ARW Mission and Vision statements:

·         Y2K

·         September 11, 2001, Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and associated military operations

·         Unit KC-135R aircraft avionics block upgrade

·         Active Association with the 99th Air Refueling Squadron

·         Increased importance and evolution of the intelligence mission

·         New construction on base (e.g., alert facility, intelligence facility, maintenance hangars)

·         Increased flying and strained personnel

·         More and longer deployments

·         Constrained budgets (i.e., sequestration, CRA (Continuing Resolution Authorization), “do more with less”)

·         Surviving the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)

·         Weather-related disasters (e.g., tornados, floods and hurricanes)

·         Aging airplanes with associated maintenance challenges

·         Endless inspections and exercises

·         Numerous unit successes, awards and accolades

Next, let us examine the 117 ARW Mission and Vision Statements so that we may fully understand their meaning.

Mission:

“Quality“ was a buzzword of the year 1998 but is more relevant today than ever.  “Worldwide“ reflects where we operate.  “In support of our community, state, and nation“ has been tested and demonstrated with examples such as 9/11/2001, the 2011 tornados, floods and hurricanes.  In 1998, “air refueling and airlift, support, logistics, and medical services“ represented the four groups within the wing along with the “intelligence” squadron.  Now, of course, “logistics“ is contained within “support“ and maintenance is its own group.  

Vision:

“World-class“ is among the best in the world, and a “team“ is much more than a collection of individuals.  “Empowered men and women“ means our leaders are giving our highly-trained members the authority (power) they need to accomplish their assigned tasks.  To empower is easy to say but is hard for many leaders to do.  “Continuous improvement“ was also a popular concept at the time of TQM which has proven to be crucial in order to be competitive.  “Continuous improvement“ can be thought of as perpetually finding ways to improve processes to make our products and services more valuable while less expensive to the taxpayer.  “The model Air National Guard unit“ was an especially inspiring element of the vision for me.  We wanted to be not only the best, but be the unit that other units aspired to be like.  “Into the 21st century“.  At the time, we were about to transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000, so the term “into“ had a special meaning.  Can you think of a more profound vision?  Perhaps to be “the model Air National Guard unit of the twenty-first century“?

Yes, our leaders of the year 1998 were thinking BIG.  Some of those leaders are still serving today. 

Are we there yet?  By all indications, the members of the 117 ARW have faithfully and superbly executed our mission and have advanced greatly toward achieving our vision.  When we do get there, we must establish a new vision that is even farther-reaching.  Our country deserves nothing less.

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