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NEWS | March 24, 2014

Keep calm and carry on

By Col. Darren Hartford 437th Airlift Wing commander

Historical perspective is a useful tool, particularly when facing "new" challenges. Often, the past helps put the present into context and serves as a guiding framework for success. I often reflect on the great many challenges we overcame in the past year, and I notice the attitude of our team is not unlike the attitudes of those who triumphed before us. To truly benefit from the lessons of history, it is important to not only recall events, but also to understand them in the context of culture and attitudes. With that in mind, I would like to share with you a historical example I feel embodies the culture and attitude of the professionals at JB Charleston.

In 1939, Britain formally declared war on Hitler's Nazi Germany. Given their close proximity, an attack on the British populace was probable. At the direction of the British government, the Ministry of Information created morale posters to bolster the resolve of their citizens during uncertain and potentially devastating times. In all, three posters were created. The first two were prominently displayed in public transportation centers, shop windows, and bulletin boards across Great Britain. The third poster was reserved in the event Germany invaded England. Should an invasion ever come, a defiant Britain would display bright red posters with bold white lettering that simply read "Keep Calm and Carry On." Fortunately, the invasion never came, but the spirit of that statement reflects a profound attitude.

This is also the spirit with which our team prevailed over the past year. Adversity was met with the resolution on the part of our Airmen, to perform the mission. You embodied, in my mind, the mantra "Keep Calm and Carry On."

Need an example? A year ago we found ourselves in the midst of sequestration and civilian furloughs. The strain on our resources caused several shortfalls to emerge.
Despite these shortfalls, 437th Airlift Wing and 315th AW crews, with the unrivaled support from the 628th Air Base Wing, flew 47,150 flying hours, delivered 136,783 tons of cargo and 79,010 passengers all over the world in FY13. Downrange, our deployed Expeditionary Airlift Squadron airlifted 113,400 tons of cargo, 23,800 passengers and dropped 3,600 airdrop bundles of supplies to forward operating bases, having a direct and critical impact on Operation Enduring Freedom. Our Aerial Port moved 16,578 tons of cargo and 16,153 passengers to support 5,856 missions.

The Traffic Management Office gave 9,416 Household Goods Briefings to ensure the smooth PCS flow. The Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory performed maintenance/certification actions on 4,558 pieces of equipment to keep the mission flowing. The superb performance of the Maintenance Group in general enabled a Logistics Departure Reliability rate of 94.5% home station, and 91.3% worldwide! The successful accomplishment of these missions is paramount, which is the reason they were priorities during sequestration. A major testament of excellence is that our team succeeded in light of significant cuts to our flying training hours. This was accomplished by innovative solutions on the part of our Airmen and through partnerships with our sister wings.

These statistics are easy to underappreciate; excellence has become so habitual to us it seems ordinary. Let's not forget that embedded in those statistics are the real stories of our Airmen saving lives on aeromedical evacuation missions, delivering critical warfighter supplies to the front lines and enabling our president to perform his duties as the head of state. I see professionals across the installation, not just doing their jobs, but excelling at them. I see a team, that when confronted with difficulty, they respond with performance. Your performance on this week's cargo and aircraft generation exercise and the Major Accident Response Exercise all confirmed my observations.

We have uncertainties ahead of us with things like Force Management programs and potentially more budgetary challenges. These are issues that are going to be challenges for our Air Force. That said, I sleep easy at night, because your attitude and resolution convinces me our team is strong. Your performance over the past year has given me that confidence. I have no doubt you will continue to perform the mission day in and day out, to take care of each other and our families, and "Keep Calm and Carry On."

Thank you for making the mission happen every day. You are all critical to our success, and I'm incredibly proud of you.