Charging into the new year

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Illinois -- It is now January 2012. It is the beginning of a new calendar year and the beginning of the second quarter of FY12. The BRAC legislation of 2005 that had such a significant effect on this unit ended on Sep. 30, 2011.

Its effects, on this unit and us personally, will continue for many more years and perhaps decades.  There is no doubt that many past and present 183rd members would have preferred that the unit continue to be a flying unit, especially one flying fighters. If you asked me in 2005 if I would have wanted things to continue as they had for years, I would have said yes. But in retrospect I would have missed out on many, many outstanding experiences. I would have missed some great personal growth and unit achievements.

It has not been easy.  As my late mother would counsel me, anything worthwhile requires hard work and sacrifice.
Members of the unit and our friends in the community have worked so hard for this unit to make a successful transition.  We have achieved something of great importance and value. We have stayed true to our ultimate mission that is to serve and support the people of this country and this state.

As 2012 begins, we have now developed a more predictable and sustainable battle rhythm or operational tempo for both our new and legacy missions. Our end strength is making gains every month, both full-time and Traditional.  Retraining our force is making great strides.  Our readiness is greatly improved.  Our facilities are significantly better with more improved and functional facilities created each year.

Contrary to what some may think, we are well positioned for the future, especially in light of talk and rumors of dramatic ANG aircraft cuts in FY13.  ANG flying units that thought they were secure may now be in perilous positions because of the recent issues with our economy and the diminished need for Reserves as the result of the end of the conflict in Iraq.

I believe if we continue to focus on making the 183rd a Center of Excellence, we, as a unit and as individuals, will find success and satisfaction.  With your help, I believe that the 183rd can have a very successful year in 2012.

Our goals for next year are:
(1) to have no loss of life, major personal injury, or Class A accidents;
(2) to strengthen the resiliency of all of our members, and to be a good "wingman" by looking out for each other and helping each other;
(3) to reach 100% manning;
(4) to successfully assist the State and Federal government in support of the combined G-8/NATO meetings;
(5) to successfully accomplish our role as lead unit of JTF-South;
(6) to continue to break ground on new facilities and make improvements to existing ones; and
(7) to ensure that our members are properly led, properly trained, and properly equipped

With your help we will succeed.  In the last six and a half years, we have experienced a lot of change, some bad and some good.  In the end these changes have helped us become a new and better unit.  One I believe that is better suited to serve this country for years and years to come.

So I thank you for all your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice and wish you and your families a safe and Happy New Year!