Priority three: building partnerships

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott Warner
  • 86th Civil Engineer Group commander
Strengthen and leverage partnerships with Air Force, joint and international partners.
The third of our wing's priorities directs us to embrace the synergy that comes from forming dynamic partnership opportunities with our fellow Airmen within our wing and outside our wing, and with our many joint and international teammates. By uniting our strengths with the strengths of our mission partners, we leverage our individual abilities to achieve greater results. Our goal: valued team members achieving increased effectiveness at a greater level of efficiency.

Within our own wing, we have many opportunities to experience the increased effects that come with strong partnerships and effective leveraging.

There are literally thousands of great examples, from the strong symbiotic relationship between the C-130J operators and maintainers to the Logistics Readiness Squadron Liquid Fuels Management Flight and the Civil Engineer Squadron Water and Fuels System Maintenance Shop. These relationships are the bread and butter of world class Air Force installations like Ramstein Air Base; leveraging a highly interoperable rapport between strong wing partners will result in spectacular wing performance.

Air Force partnerships.
The 86th Airlift Wing also requires strong partnerships with other Air Force partners to be the premier installation the nation needs us to be. One of the most obvious examples is the outstanding partnership between the 86th Airlift Wing and the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing.

Through this strong operational bond forged between power projection platform operators and strategic airlift assets, Air Mobility Command is able to project Global Reach and Global Power through three different geographic commands: EUCOM, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM. As a result, the United States achieves global effects from this partnership that are unmatched by any military or civilian organization in the world. The 86th AW also maintains symbiotic relationships with our Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe and 3rd Air Force staffs beyond those expected in a command relationship.

By providing operational support aircraft, world class facilities, dependable infrastructure, redundant communication paths, mission support services and Quality of Life programs, the wing enables the command to direct air operations in a theater spanning three continents and covering more than 19 million square miles.

Joint partnerships. The central location of Ramstein Air Base between the United States, the CENTCOM AOR, and Africa make it a key location for other United States Joint partners within the national umbrella. By maintaining stellar partnerships between us and our non-Air Force tenant partners, we capitalize on those strengths and resources that are inherent within our brethren services.

The partnership between the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the 86th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility has had a monumental impact on the survival rate of wounded warriors, dramatically increasing the chances for critically wounded American service members to survive and recover from their injuries. As another example, our world-class communications personnel teams collaborate with multiple intelligence and national strategic mission partners to provide reliable, redundant communication pathways that enable the flow of data and command & control information between warfighters worldwide.

International partnerships. Due to our geographic location, the 86th AW has the capability to build strong relationships with a large number of international partners. Our gracious host nation, the Federal Republic of Germany, provides ample opportunity for leveraging our respective strengths and resources, from the tactical to the strategic level. At the tactical level, our personnel work side-by-side in almost every office within the 86th AW to enable daily mission requirements.

The mix between our military personnel, US civilian employees, local national employees and contract personnel ensures we leverage a diverse workforce into a single mission-focused capability. At the strategic level, collaboration with other countries through our NATO partnership and friendships in Africa has opened additional opportunities for training, development of national capabilities, and increased interoperability.

Our operations personnel regularly engage in Flying Training Deployments with partner countries to increase awareness between operators and to facilitate future operations
Strengthen and leverage. One important aspect about the wing strategic priority is the focus on strengthening and leveraging partnerships, not just establishing them. The key to effective partnerships is that they must be constantly cultivated and maintained.

Having regular interactions between the partners to build trust, rapport and familiarity is crucial to the strengthening process. Additionally, the leveraging part cannot be overlooked. It is important to find that balance between partners that provides the most benefit for both sides, the classic win-win position where the output of the partnership is substantially more valuable than the efforts put into maintaining it.

As one of many wing success stories, our emergency responders have a long and successful history of working with host nation partners to provide the most effective capabilities in protecting our personnel and ensuring mission continuity. Our firefighters plan and execute joint training opportunities with their counterparts in the local communities to share tips, techniques, and practices so that when they are called, they can act together seamlessly and with a high degree of interoperability.
Although it takes time and resources to host and run these joint training events, the additional capability we receive under our mutual aid agreements and the interoperability that comes from touch-testing all processes in training represents an extremely valuable asset to the wing in the event of a major real world event.

As noted by Andrew Carnegie, the great American philanthropist, "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision...the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."

In a time of increased financial accountability, it is crucial that we strengthen the bonds which join us to our mission partners in order to reap the benefits that come from harnessing the talents and resources that everyone brings to the fight.

(Editor's note: This is No. 3 of 5 articles in a series highlighting the priorities of the 86th Airlift Wing.)