Communications group busy ‘hunting’ while preparing for ORI

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
Members of the 5th Combat Communications Group have been hunting "moose and squirrels" in an effort to prepare for their Operational Readiness Inspection next week.

For this group, which strives to prioritize its improvement efforts, the animals are symbolic; moose represent high priority issues while the squirrels are low priority issues.

"Everyone in the 5th CCG has been hunting for moose over the last few months, knocking them dead, and solving issues. The challenge in hunting for moose is that there are lots of squirrels running around," said Colonel Carl Block, commander of the 5th CCG. "The squirrels are things you could shoot at, but they are very low priority, very little impact for the amount of time they take."

He said often, the low priority issues will disguise themselves as high priority, and it's his team's job to be able to distinguish real moose as opposed to squirrels wearing moose horns.

The group's mission is to provide communications, air traffic control and weather system support for U.S. military operations around the world.

During the ORI next week, members of the group will have the opportunity to prove their skills.

"This validates that we know how to do our mission and do it well," said Capt. Nate Huston, Plans and Operations Flight commander.

Members of the group will be participating in an ORI where they will be tested on their ability to achieve their mission in a timely and effective matter, while adhering to the many Air Force Instructions and Technical Orders that apply.

"The IG is here to make sure we know how to deploy in an environment that could be hostile. They want to make sure we know how to do our job with rockets and mortars flying like we do in Iraq and Afghanistan," Captain Huston said.

The 5th CCG has been working since the spring of 2007 to ensure the group is prepared. The group utilized a three-phased approach to prepare: define your tactics, practice and then polish, Colonel Block said.

Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Davies, chief of standards and evaluations for the 5th CCG, said the real crunch time will begin Thursday, after the 35 Air Combat Command inspectors and 61 inspectors arrive to evaluate the group.

"This is when they'll be all over us to make sure we are doing our job," Sergeant Davies said.

The inspection will differ from past inspections because the inspection will only focus on day shifts, rather than 24-hour operations like in the past. The group will also be conducting their ORI at Robins rather than departing the base for Souther Field in Americus.

This will be the first time an active-duty combat communications group will be evaluated under the new day-time operations criteria.

"The Airmen of the 5th Combat Communications Group are fully prepared for this ORI. Bring it on. We'll show them how good we are," Colonel Block said.

No matter how confident members of the group are, they are still eager to use any recommendations made by the IG to improve their operations.

"We will take that bed of knowledge and make sure we are improving in that area," Captain Huston said.

Colonel Block said the 5th CCG was grateful to their fellow Airmen in the 78th Air Base Wing, whose assistance has been invaluable. Colonel Block added he hoped the experiences the 78th Air Base Wing and the 5th CCG have shared in preparation for the group's ORI will not only help the 5th CCG excel, but will also help the 78th ABW shine in its own ORI in April.

"The hunters of the 5th Mob have done a great job bagging high priority moose over the last few months. We've bagged a few squirrels too, but, I am confident that all the moose issues have been solved," Colonel Block said. "In the end, when the IG shows up, there may still be a few small squirrels running around, but that is OK. We know we hit all the high priority moose."