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Are we ready for the storm?

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- When I was a young man, I heard a story about a rancher who hired a new worker to help run his ranch. Soon after hiring this worker, a fierce storm descended upon the ranch. The rancher, concerned for the safety of his livestock and property, ran to the bunkhouse to roust his hired men. He found all of them awake and getting ready to go out in the storm except for the new man, who was still laying in his bunk. 

"Why aren't you getting up?" asked the rancher. "How can you just lay there in bed with this storm raging outside? We need to get the animals into shelter and secure the buildings." 

The new worker replied, "Boss, I did all that last night so I could get a good night's sleep." 

Today, the 90th Space Wing is preparing for a storm of sorts: the upcoming nuclear surety and operational readiness inspections. As we go through our preparations for these important inspections, we might ask ourselves, "Am I more like the rancher or the hired man?" Do we react to a storm, or are we always prepared for a storm? 

As a second lieutenant deputy missile combat crew member in the 490th Strategic Missile Squadron, I thought it was odd that we would get so "spun up" about inspections. I understood that I needed to be on top of my game every day, not just during inspections. My crew commander, 1st Lt. Carl Williams, saw to it that we were always inspection ready. We made sure our technical orders were in order, completed our monthly crew study, and did our part to keep our launch control center in top shape including scrubbing the chair rails with a toothbrush. We were "inspection ready" every day. We were like the hired man in the story. 

Now, as a squadron commander, I find that I am more like the rancher but with a leadership twist. My responsibilities extend far beyond my personal proficiency and one launch control center. I am accountable not just for the proficiency of my squadron but for all squadron-level programs and facilities. I cannot wait for the storm to hit to assess shortfalls in my squadron and take corrective action. I must establish a culture of continual preparedness and lead others to be continually ready. This is especially true because our nuclear deterrence and global deployment missions are a daily reality: They never end. 

The trust placed in us, the men and women of the 90th Space Wing, to flawlessly execute our mission at all times demands uncompromised individual proficiency, flawless teamwork and vigilant leadership every day. We must be ready at all times, not just when an inspection "storm" is looming. The truly outstanding units look and act the same when inspectors are watching and when they are not.