Total Force Integration in action

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mark A. Riselli
  • 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
The last eight weeks have seen a blistering amount of activity for my squadron and many other units at Whiteman Air Force Base. We successfully redeployed personnel, equipment and aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to Whiteman AFB just in time to host the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz. We participated in a Weapons Standardization Evaluation Program, Large Force Exercise, passed a Limited Nuclear Surety Inspection and supported multiple munitions test sorties. We also hosted the Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, played a key role in Operation Odyssey Dawn and welcomed a Russian delegation into our squadron for the first visit under the new START treaty.

This rapid-fire succession of events tested our preparedness, training and overall ability to execute our bottom line mission: deterrence, assurance and generating combat sorties when tasked by the National Command Authority.

How did we accomplish all of these complex and diverse tasks? The answer: hard work coupled with teamwork between 509th and 131st Bomb Wing personnel. After more than three years of working to integrate our two wings, Operation Odyssey Dawn served as a final examination (of sorts) and demonstrated our progress.

From beginning to end, 131st Bomb Wing personnel served alongside members of the 509th Bomb Wing to ensure mission success. Maintenance personnel from the 131st Air National Guard were the first to load munitions on B-2's assigned to destroy Libyan military targets. ANG aircrew members were among the line-up of pilots that participated in planning and executing the mission.

As I stood on the flightline with my 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander counterpart during preparation for Operation Odyssey Dawn, Total Force Integration was reality. The seams between our two wings were far less evident than when the 131st arrived three years ago.

While we will continue to pursue greater partnership between our wings, it may be time to drop the "I" in TFI at Whiteman AFB. When it comes to the operations and maintenance mission areas, Whiteman's two bomb wings are a Total Force.

Finally, as the history books now record, our recent B-2 combat sorties were on-time and on-target. The men and women of both the 509th and 131st Bomb Wing's can be proud of the page of military aviation history that they helped to write.