ORI's over: what now?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
After the operational readiness inspection, the grade announcement, victory party and warrior flyby, Ellsworth Airmen face the challenge of returning the base to normal operations.

While the ORI, which ran from Oct. 12 through 18, tested the ability of Airmen to operate in a simulated-deployed environment, the mission of Ellsworth has always been to put bombs on target.

"The ORI gave Airmen a unique opportunity to become proficient at certain skills that would not have been addressed or trained, under normal circumstances," said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing commander. "Now that the inspection is over, we have to take those skills and apply them to our daily practices."


Colonel Taliaferro said one of the primary focuses of the wing will be the upcoming aviation package deployment in January. Ellsworth Airmen who have been tasked to go should be taking the necessary steps in preparation to deploy.

"In 2009, about 35 percent of our active duty Airmen did a combat deployment," the commander said. "Ellsworth should expect that high combat tempo to continue."

Fleet Health

Another focus of the wing will be to improve the B-1B Lancer fleet health. Colonel Taliaferro said the mission capable rate of the bomber is improving.

"With the addition of 267 maintainers over the past year we have seen significant improvement in the health of the B-1 fleet," he said. "Right now our mission-capable rate is trending close to our planned flight path. We hope to be fully back to normal next summer."

MQ-9 Squadron

In addition to improving the health of the B-1 fleet, 28th BW Airmen will also be focusing their efforts on preparing for the installation of the MQ-9 ground control station.

"Right now, we're in the process working with the Air Combat Command team to develop a plan for the 2012 mission," Colonel Taliaferro said. "Much work will need to be done in 2011 to be ready for the squadron stand up in Jan. 2012."

Base Housing

While standing up the MQ-9 stations is a top priority for the 28th BW, the commander says there are several other areas and projects on Ellsworth which are in transition. There will be a town hall meeting, Nov. 3 and 4 at 6 p.m. (both days) in the base theater, to discuss the Centennial housing lease expiration.

"We're hoping the residents of Centennial will join us at the base theater for this meeting," the commander said. "It will be a good opportunity for any questions they have to be answered."

Winter Safety

Additionally, Colonel Taliaferro said both Airmen living on and off base should be conscious of the approaching winter weather. He said there is a different mindset Airmen need to be in during the winter months at Ellsworth.

"The weather is getting colder so we need to start getting our heads in the game," the commander said. "Safety should be a primary concern for all Airmen of the 28th BW, we can't be taking unnecessary risks - especially during this time of year. Airmen should closely watching the road conditions (red, yellow and greed), and take the appropriate action. Avoid parking on the street during snow advisories."

Suicide Prevention and DUI Program

Suicide and driving under the influence incidents continue to be an Air Force wide problem. Colonel Taliaferro asks every Airman of the 28th BW to be a good wingman and make responsible choices.

"We've made good strides on our suicide awareness and DUI programs," he said. "But, we still need to push forward and make sure we are taking care of our fellow Airmen. Every Airman is an important part of our mission - a part we can't be without."

Colonel Taliaferro said the Airmen of the 28th BW have done a tremendous job in the ORI. Now, they can "put their chem gear away" and focus on the road ahead. Whether preventing a suicide, combating DUIs, preparing for a new mission or an upcoming deployment, he said he trusts that Airmen will show the same level of excellence in their day-to-day tasks as they did during the inspection.