McChord Airmen help deliver combat readiness

By Sandra Pishner on June 29, 2012

Tucked away in a small, easily overlooked office space in the wing headquarters building, is a team of reservists who have only four primary responsibilities - responsibilities that in the end tell the president this wing is ready when called.

The 446th Airlift Wing Combat Readiness Office, headed by Lt. Col. David Jeske, is a new function to the wing, as it is for all wings in Air Force Reserve Command.

Authorized in November 2011, combat readiness offices across the command are designed to plan, prepare, execute and assess the wing's readiness program.

"Our new combat readiness (office) has added tremendous resources to this wing," Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander, said. "Since we lost our plans section years ago, functions supporting readiness devolved to various functional areas without a single contact point.

"While much of the work was still being accomplished," Bowers said, "those tasks competed with workloads already being levied. This office now allows us to focus on wing readiness from a unit perspective."

As an air reserve technician, Jeske is the only full-time staff in the office, with three traditional reservists assigned.

According to Jeske, the office's primary responsibilities can be broken down into four areas - preparing the wing for inspections, preparing and coordinating all exercises, managing the exercise evaluation team, and serving as advisors to the wing commander on the state of the wing's readiness.

"Whether it's the ORI (operational readiness inspection), HSI (health services inspection), or a MARE (major accident response exercise), we play a role in all of those", Jeske said. "Our office will be responsible for coordinating the wings participation in all those exercises."

And with the ORI just around the corner, Jeske has his hands full right from the get go. "So I was either really, really good with my timing, or I have the worst timing in the world," he said.

In order to understand the wing's readiness and what exercises are needed to prepare the 446th AW Reservists for executing the mission, a team of evaluators are needed.

"I will be the chief of the EET, the wing's exercise evaluation team," Jeske said. "All of the other members of the office will be very strong members of the EET; each representing a very necessary and important facet of the EET."

Not only will the combat readiness office house records of the training for EET members, its personnel must accomplish their own training.

"Our office members have to complete all that training as well, and then some," Jeske said. "We looked the other day and there are 13 training courses required just for members of the combat readiness office. That's why it's very important who we select to be in the combat readiness office. Training from Air Force, AFRC, AMC (Air Mobility Command), Homeland Defense, and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). It has to do with everything from how to run an exercise, to emergency management, to how an EOC (emergency operations center) is set up. It really covers the gamut of everything you need to know to lead an EET in an exercise evaluation."

All the combat readiness office does rolls into their fourth responsibility, serving as advisors to the wing commander.

"That's probably the most complicated of the four," Jeske said. "Because everyone has a different idea of what readiness means. And there doesn't seem to be a single, specific definition of readiness. If (Colonel Bowers) gets a phone call tomorrow saying ‘We need 1,000 people to deploy to base X somewhere, is the 446th ready to go?' he'll be able to answer that immediately. To me that is readiness. My challenge is to give Col. Bowers the tools to give an answer that is ‘Yes, the 446th is ready to go right now.'"

Jeske was a key proponent for establishing combat readiness offices. As the executive officer for Brig. Gen. Mark Kyle, 4th Air Force commander, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Jeske primarily focused on readiness for more than five years.

"Having Lt. Col. David Jeske join our 446th AW team is a coup," Bowers said. He brings a wealth of experience and background that will not only make the 446 AW better, but it will improve team Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Jeske may have been influenced to come here from California because his daughter attends the University of Oregon. But it was the wing's reputation that sealed the deal.

"In some ways, I kind of feel like the folks of the 446th don't know how good they have it," Jeske said. "Having come from a different perspective, particularly from the (Numbered Air Force) where I saw all the wings, I kind of knew how well the folks in the 446th have it."