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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2009

Turning the Corner

By Col. Steven Shepro 316th Wing/Joint Base Andrews commander

We celebrate another holiday season - already - and reflect on the end of a year and a decade. It has been a time of war and adversity, but it has brought out the best, strongest and bravest side of our military community. Moreover, Andrews looks back on a remarkable year - after determined pursuit of increased pride, teamwork and fitness, it is clear that our hard work has paid off. What we've all done in the last 12 months is amazing.

"Pride in ourselves, mission and base," was the first and most important goal. It began from the gates inward - the gateway flags, the dignified main roads and "Welcome to Andrews" greetings at the security accesses - as the first impression to over 10,000 people that entered Andrews each day as team members, national and international dignitaries, patients, retirees and contractors. Pride in base appearance spread; the better the base looked, the more everyone began to keep it so.

Pride in our jobs spread with emphasis on understanding our interrelated no-fail missions in support and defense of the National Capital Region and its leadership, which drove morale to rise across the base and a string of flawless successes before the eyes of the world: the reception of the G-20 world leaders, the support of the presidential Inauguration, the largest Joint Service Open House, and, of course, becoming DoD's first Joint Base a year ahead of schedule. Moreover, the pride was evident in the excellence of our results: in the daily high-visibility successes here, in three superb Operational Readiness Inspections on combined Team Andrews units, and most recently in the Air Force Inspection Agency accolades of our program for DoD's returning Wounded Warriors coming through Andrews.

"Team Support and Respect," the second goal, was indispensable to these successes because every job here is intertwined. Everyone knew that since we excelled at presidential-level support and respect to our national leadership, we could surely extend the same support and respect to the organizations and members across our own team, moreover to their families in this time of war. We learned more how to say "yes" to our team partners and moreover to our teammates. Base finance customer service reduced the average wait time from 1.3 hours to 12 minutes, and raised their record to the best in the Air Force over the space of four months. The Military Personnel Flight stretched their hours, opening earlier and closing later in order to cut the wait times for personnel support. Flightline operations on DoD's busiest CONUS airfield improved. Outreach programs to our Airmen, Sailors and families expanded, both for deployers and for our Andrews community.

Finally, all these efforts would fail if we were not ensuring the fitness of our teams and of our more than 400 combat-deployed warriors. To master our high-stress jobs here and extreme conditions downrange, we all agreed that we needed to strive for a higher level of fitness. To this end we began to push ourselves with the new Tactical Fitness Center, high-intensity unit programs and base runs. Testimonies and fitness score improvements attest that everyone's best effort, from commanders and chiefs to the youngest Airman, Sailor, Soldier and Marine, has made a difference.

We have seen real change, and it has been in the hands of every member of Joint Team Andrews. As we close what "Time" magazine has called a "Decade from Hell," we know that our attitude has empowered us to be better. The new "Andrews Way" has become contagious across our missions and members. We finish this year with gratitude and generosity; we will soon begin a new decade of more unprecedented growth and change at Andrews.

Thank you, have a safe and happy holiday season, and return healthy to a great year ahead!