Commander's Commentary: The 111th Attack Wing remains ready for 2017

  • Published
  • By Col. Howard Eissler
  • 111th Attack Wing commander
Just within the first month of 2017, I've watched our members return from overseas, while others prepare for another deployment or activation. Nothing new for the members of the 111th Attack Wing; we are constantly performing more and more to support both the State and federal mission - and I couldn't be more proud. Therefore, I wanted to take a moment to talk to the members and associates of the 111th ATKW, both here and outside the installation.

When we look back at 2016, we can certainly say it was yet another banner year. We had members deploying throughout the world and we starting this new thing called "deploying to homestation." Each group is equally engaged in contesting our nation's enemies. We've had multiple deployers taking on extensive humanitarian initiatives and we sent members to Lithuania to train with our partner Nation --- as always, my confidence lies with our Airmen. We need to continue the National Guard mission of fighting America's wars, securing the homeland and building partnerships. In looking forward, I believe that past performance is an indicator of our future success.

We can recognize the challenges we faced and conquered. Last year, the 103rd Attack Squadron launched their first remotely-piloted aircraft mission ahead of the [Department of Defense] schedule thanks to the tireless work from our team Airmen. We transitioned an Air National Guard unit, designed as a strategic reserve unit, into a fully operational 24/7 combat unit. We can boast that we began the task of building another one of the Guard's newest missions: a cyberspace operations squadron - a unit on the cutting edge of modern warfare. But, like every year, while we recognize these accomplishments, we must continue to build on them and move forward.

To the Airmen of the Wing, I challenge you to continue operating by the charge of the 111th ATKW Vision Statement: do your job, follow the rules and take care of each other. It's a simple concept, but should be practiced in all that we do when we put on the uniform and when we are out in the community. As a challenge to you, I am asking every member of the Wing to take part in the recruiting mission. Find quality people to join us in embodying the vision statement and help further Air Force innovation, agility and partnerships - we are all ambassadors.

To those in the neighborhoods we serve, please know that the Air National Guardsmen here take seriously their roles as stewards to the community. We will continue to ensure that our practices meet and exceed environmental recommendations. Our social media platforms and public website are meant to keep the local population current with our initiatives and actions. As always, when questions or comments arise, we encourage the public to contact the 111th ATKW Public Affairs office at 215-323-7177, so that they may answer your question or direct your call appropriately.

As Guardsmen, we live in the same neighborhoods we work. I'd like to think that our presence in the area helps to bolster not only patriotism, but also revenue. Since 2014, we've doubled our economic impact to the local community, from approximately $40 million to nearly $90 million.

To our military retirees, it's important you know that you are still part of the military family. Last year, we opened our Horsham Air Guard Station Retirees Activities Office (RAO) on the base. Located in the headquarters building, our volunteers can offer a wealth of information in-person and are currently working to spread their reach through an electronic newsletter. We hope that as our members process out of the Wing, they stop by the RAO and get to know the volunteers. Reach out to them with your questions or if you have an interest in volunteering your time to help your fellow service members, call 215-323-7135.

Please keep in mind, new trials are going to constantly materialize throughout this year. I would like both Guardsmen and citizens to know that the 111th ATKW studies, plans, practices and re-evaluates on a continuous cycle to actively deter threats before they materialize, or react to threats before they leave the scope of our control. We will continue to embrace existing military and community partnerships. By deliberately unifying efforts, we can greatly benefit our nation and neighborhoods in the face of future challenges.