86 AW/XP builds teams, solves problems

Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A trophy for the 86th Airlift Wing Plans and Programs office stands in the middle of a table during a meeting July 26 on Ramstein. The 86th AW XP office integrates information and creates solutions concerning missions and operations coming in and out of Ramstein. The office acts as a liaison between incoming missions and the agencies they need to meet.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the U.S. founding fathers, is often quoted as saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

This is why Airmen of the 86th Airlift Wing’s Plans and Programs office, or XP, strive to diligently carry out their duty of anticipating the future and managing the present.

The 86 AW XP office serves as the nucleus for operations on Ramstein. The office acts as a liaison between incoming missions and the agencies they need to meet.

“It’s a unique organization,” said Robert Lala, 86 AW XP chief. “We’re really a team builder, integrator of information and problem solver. That’s the primary focus of our group. If it’s cross functional, if you need airfield support, if you need fuel, security, logistics, if there’s a mission or airplane coming here, we deal with it first and get it bedded down.”

Lala and his Airmen not only serve units within the 86 AW; they also serve tenant wings on Ramstein, meeting with officials of those units to provide consultation.

Master Sgt. John Gott, 86 AW XP superintendent, leads the office’s operations security program. Gott emphasized the importance of operational security and mentioned that it is a major aspect of XP’s mission.

“If we didn’t practice (operations security), we would be basically giving our adversaries all the information they could piece together so they could know our mission,” Gott said.

Gott explained an adversary does not need a whole document with complete information to find out about the wing’s operations. In contrast, bits of information can come together like a puzzle to reveal a bigger picture, he said.

Gott recently participated in a base-wide dumpster dive, the objective of which was to assess OPSEC risks and look for improperly disposed information.

“It’s the little stuff that you can take,” Gott said. “I could take a piece of this unit’s information, a little bit of information from another unit, piece it together and find out the wing’s
mission and what they’re doing operationally.”

Another major part of XP’s mission is managing the Crisis Action Team. In the event of a prolonged crisis that affects the base’s operations, the installation commander can activate the CAT. The CAT helps make sure normal operations still run as needed.

“We stand up to make sure the (emergency operation center) and everybody gets what they need,” Lala said. “We’re more concerned about the rest of the base and how everything else is going. That’s where we come in.

“If there’s an exercise and the commander stands up the CAT, we run all information management services for him and the senior staff,” he added.

Ramstein is a massive installation that is involved in missions from every direction. This is why XP’s mission to solve problems and integrate information is indispensable.