Readiness is key in troubled times

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon
  • 86th Airlift Wing commander
Grim circumstances around the world in recent weeks have served to upset our normal routines and remind us of the role we play as U.S. servicemembers overseas.

Whether it's wildfires in Israel, political uprisings in Africa, devastating earthquakes in Japan or even a terrorist attack at Frankfurt Airport, world events have shown us time and again that the U.S. military needs to be ready to respond immediately to a wide variety of unexpected circumstances.

Some servicemembers in the KMC are accustomed to extremely short-notice taskings. They keep a 72-hour bag in the trunk of their car, they're in top physical condition, and they have plans in place for their spouses and family members if they are unexpectedly sent halfway across the world.

Some, however, may not be quite so ready for contingency operations. Their day-to-day jobs don't include a strong possibility they'll end up on another continent before nightfall, and they may develop habits that leave them ill prepared for a quick departure.

Though we try, there's no way to plan for every possible circumstance. Whether you're a lawyer, a cook, a defender, or an administrative assistant, the truth about serving in the military is that your specialization may be in severe demand somewhere in the world, sometime soon. Detailed plans or not, there are things we can all do to better prepare ourselves. By increasing your general readiness, you give the military forces of the U.S. and our allies the flexibility to adjust to the infinite spectrum of situations we could face.

1. Physical fitness: If called upon, are you ready to trudge across the deserts of Libya in full Kevlar with a loaded ruck today? Though that's a remote possibility for most of us, great physical conditioning can still help us in many ways during a contingency operation. Climate and altitude adjustment, endurance, performance with little sleep and resistance to
illness are just a few things you'll be better at if you're in shape.

2. Training/documentation currency: Can you walk out the door today on short notice, or do you have four hours of overdue computer-based training you'll have to complete before your orders can be cut? Maintain your currency so you're prepared for the worst. Also, clearance to travel for official purposes into other countries usually requires an official passport. Those who have an even remote possibility of travel for the DoD should have an official passport which they can retrieve in short order.

3. Mobile pro gear: How long will it take you to assemble the gear you'll need to do your job in a remote location? Keep your equipment stored in such a way that you can quickly assemble it and get moving.

4. Family plan: What will happen to your spouse or family members if you can't come home from work today? Will the kids get picked up from school? Does your family have access to a vehicle, or enough money to get through while you're gone? Find answers to these questions early - the rush to get out the door is not the time to improvise solutions to issues you
could resolve ahead of time. Don't hesitate to ask other people from your unit to help either - in most cases they'll be honored that you asked.

5. Attitude: Do you bring your can-do, or your could've-done? If your head's not in the right place, you're doing yourself and your coworkers a disservice. An emergency is the time when everyone needs to step up, bring their A-game, and find new levels of focus and determination. Oftentimes the mission is accomplished through sheer force of will alone.

I'm extremely proud of the men and women across the DoD who've responded to the emergencies we've recently seen around the globe - many of whom have come from right here in the KMC. U.S. servicemembers from all branches have a long-standing reputation for finding a way to get the job done, and we've been living up to it with flying colors.

The tremendous capabilities of the U.S. military have been needed all over the world, but it's the preparedness of individual Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who've ensured we're ready to answer our nation's call.