Coping with COVID, getting mission accomplished

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh
  • 403rd Wing commander

 I can’t begin to tell you how impressive your performance has been despite all of the COVID challenges. But don’t take my word for it – Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee, commander, Air Force Reserve Command, called me personally to congratulate you on your efforts to mobilize aeromedical evacuation Airmen to help with the pandemic, continue to prepare for the upcoming deployment, and to complete 100% of extremely early weather reconnaissance sorties. No wonder the 403rd is the “Wing of Choice.”


Unfortunately, we’re not yet done dealing with COVID challenges. As we start to increase our operations tempo, we must do so in a slow and measured manner to ensure we continue to properly balance mission accomplishment with minimizing risk to all wing members. To that end, the June Unit Training Assembly will not yet be back to normal. I’ve empowered all commanders with maximum flexibility for June UTA completion. Coordinate with your chain of command to select the option from the following list that works best for you: (1) only Airmen living within 40 miles of Keesler may perform the UTA on base, (2) all Airmen may complete the UTA virtually, (3) Airmen may request an excusal or a reschedule to a later date. There will be other virtual training offered by Chief Master Sgt. Monte Snyder, performance process manager and master resilience trainer for the wing, so look for his emails on how and when to connect.  The attachment can be used as a guide, but in no way does it limit you in what training is authorized to be performed via telecommute UTAs. I trust you – use your judgment as to what constitutes telecommute work and how to document that work (i.e. training certificates and draft officer or enlisted performance reports, etc.), and keep a record of training accomplished.


For the July UTA, I’m hoping the DoD travel restrictions will be lifted on June 30 as currently scheduled. If the restrictions are extended, the July UTA will also be virtual.  If the restrictions are lifted, I plan to schedule an on base UTA for July 18-19. Since our original UTA schedule did not have a July UTA, this UTA will not be mandatory. However, I hope most wing members will be able to attend. We’ll have much training to catch up on – and it can’t possibly be completed in one UTA – so we’ll prioritize until everyone is once again current. Remember to keep checking up on your Wingmen until we can once again come together on base.


 Again, kudos to everyone for your amazing attitudes, flexibility, patience, and ability to keep our mission going!  Clearly – “Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!”