'Fresh Eyes' tackle Lakenheath pride
December 14, 2003
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — When the 48th Fighter Wing deploys in the spring in support of ongoing operations, that mission’s success may have something to do with a singles-only bowling event.
Or a few tips offered by NCOs to young maintainers on the flight line months earlier.
Or a renewed emphasis on the appearance of the base they leave behind.
The Liberty Wing, with nearly 5,000 active-duty members, has embraced along with other bases in U.S. Air Forces in Europe the series of programs created by USAFE commander Gen. Robert H. Foglesong.
From greater access to college classes and an insight into spiritual matters to maintaining physical fitness and forming a closer relationship with senior leaders, the 12 programs are aimed toward successful completion of the combat mission.
“All of these initiatives support that,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Matthews, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing.
In a roundtable discussion recently with some of the leaders of various projects within the program, the conclusion was that the program has forced people to take a new look at existing efforts and inspired them to come up with new ones.
“These were like fresh eyes that General Foglesong put on an old situation,” said Gretchen Shannon of the Family Support Center and a leader in the Combat Care program. “It’s like we’ve been given permission to think outside the box.”
Maj. Rick Blaisdell of the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron and leader of Combat Proud, an effort to enhance the appearance of the base, said, “my eyeballs have been recalibrated.”
For example, he said, people often stack refuse around overflowing Dumpsters and much of that is trash not meant to be placed in a Dumpster. Combat Proud’s emphasis on base appearance has been heeded.
“We’ve actually noticed a decrease in the last 30 to 45 days since this program kicked off,” he said. “Our underlying theme is, it’s everyone’s responsibility.”
Maj. Dean Judge of the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron said the new effort known as Combat Flightline has brought renewed focus to the mission of maintaining the wing’s F-15 fighter jets. One result has been the return to the flight line of senior NCOs who had migrated over time to desk jobs.
“We’re putting those stripes back out on the line,” said Judge. “We’re getting the people with experience back out there to give these guys supervision.”
Maj. Helen Brasher of the 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron is in charge of Project CHEER, which stands for Creating Hope, Energy, Enthusiasm and Recreation. The effort is directed at single airmen and officers, she said, especially during the winter months.
“The season can be a little bit dreary for people,” she said. “We’re trying to give them something fun to do.”
Several events are in the works, she said, including bowling and flag football, plus a plan to put single servicemembers with families at Christmas so they won’t spend the holiday alone.
The goal of it all, of course, is to better perform the mission, Matthews said.
Matthews is now thinking of ways to get the information to people. He’s hoping to create a Web-based network similar to the one on base that will be accessible to military community members from their homes.
Also, he wonders why the bases in USAFE, from Spangdahlem, Germany, to Aviano, Italy, can’t share their ideas and interests through “virtual meetings” via computer.
“The more you expose people to these programs, the more they see opportunities out there,” he said.