The main effort

  • Published
  • By Capt. Julius Romasanta
  • 390th Fighter Squadron commander
"The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win." These historic words resonated once again from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in his "vector check" for our service. His message ties in perfectly with the primary mission of the 366th Fighter Wing -- "provide combat airpower and combat support capabilities to respond to and sustain worldwide contingency operations."

Both statements make it clear that we, and the rest of the Air Force, serve to support the Joint Forces commander. In short, we in the Air Force support all ground forces, whether they are infantry Soldiers, secret service agents, the New York Police Department and so on. Our actions can determine the intensity of a ground battle or if one will ever happen.

Before coming to Mountain Home, I served as an air liaison officer in the Republic of Korea, working and living with the U.S. Army. I advised the Army on how to effectively use airpower. While we didn't always agree on everything, some Army concept fits perfectly into the Airman mindset. That concept is the "main effort" during a battle. Simply put, of all of the actions occurring in a command during battle, there is typically one that is recognized as the most critical to success at that moment - the main effort.

Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1 clarifies this need, "The main effort receives priority for support of any kind. It becomes clear to all other units in the command that they must support that unit in the accomplishment of its mission. Like the commander's intent, the main effort becomes a harmonizing force for subordinate initiative."

What is the 366th Fighter Wing's main effort? It depends. When we're about to deploy hundreds of Airmen from the 366th Security Forces Squadron or 726th Air Control Squadron to a combat theater, they become the main effort. They deserve every priority of support to get them to the fight safely and quickly.

Absent a large combat deployment, the day-to-day main effort of the 366th FW is the production of combat airpower - the Airmen who produce that power become the wing's priority. I'm talking about the men and women of the 366th Maintenance Group who maintain our F-15s and the 366th Operations Group aircrew that fly them.

Everyone on base ends up supporting someone else either here or on the battlefield. Case in point: aircrews with the 391st Fighter Squadron recently provided extraordinary lethal combat power in Afghanistan, supporting friendly ground forces in close contact with the enemy since those warriors on the ground are the theatre's main effort. Meanwhile, the 390th Fighter Squadron defended the skies over the Northern Command area of responsibility in support of the president, ensuring the continuity of the government. The 389th Fighter Squadron projected combat power in the Pacific Command area of responsibility, reassuring important allies and deterring potential adversaries with their awesome capabilities. All three fighter squadrons were their respective theatre's support effort, and all enabled successful achievement of the Joint Forces commander's goal.

In no way should being part of the "supporting effort" be deemed as being less important or insignificant. In fact it is quite the opposite; the supporting effort on Mountain Home AFB has an immense impact on making life easier for those maintaining and flying the machines on our flightline - again, Mountain Home's main effort.

The point is we need your support.

We should all challenge ourselves to consider our own personal impact on the 366th Fighter Wing's mission. An Airman in LRS, for example, should understand the imperative to keep the deployment processes running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We need you to stay late sometimes and do everything in your power to get us that refueling aircraft that is vital to getting Airmen, equipment and jets to the fight together and on time.

Others are equally vital. We need Airmen to help establish connectivity at our deployed locations to ensure secure communications with higher headquarters. We need motivated maintainers to produce "Code 1" jets to take to the fight, as well as to be completely sincere when they tell us which jet is the "pride of the fleet" and which one is broken. As aircrew, we must do our utmost to ensure all of these supporting efforts directed toward us are not wasted because of poor mission planning, sloppy execution or stubborn egos. The entire base counts on success during training in order to best ensure success in combat, and the nation deserves our best main effort.

Our mission is to fly, fight and win. If our efforts don't achieve that mission, let's fix the broken processes versus blaming people for what doesn't work. Let's work problems together, rather than work against each other, to find solutions. Remember that we are on the same team, fighting the same fight and supporting the same main effort.

Our jobs do not merely provide a pay check. Our jobs are our lives. The military defines us. It means understanding our priorities and making tough sacrifices. We are all vital to the main effort both here and on the battlefield. We are all here to serve a cause greater than ourselves.

The next time you're faced with a problem or find yourself at a decision point, ask yourself one question: "How can I best support the main effort?" Find the answer and you'll find the solution.