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Set goals high: Plan to win, expect to win

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Tims
  • 90th Missile Wing commander
What a treat for the Mighty Ninety to host Gen. C. Robert Kehler, U.S. Strategic Command commander, on our base last Friday and Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, and his lovely wife, Julie, this week.

We were able to show Gen. Kehler a few things we are overseeing. We took him over to maintenance and showed him our transporter erectors (TE) and a tour of electronics laboratory.

Lt. Col. Eric Moore, 90th Maintenance Group deputy commander, and his team showed the General the engineering features the TE uses to raise and lower a 79,000 pound missile. I have not seen General Kehler in awhile and it was really good to see him again. I was his executive officer from the summer of 2008 through 2009 while he was the commander of Air Force Space Command. It is beneficial for all of us to have him back in the nuclear mission again, and it is very helpful to have him in our warfighting chain of command.

My wife and I really enjoyed hosting General Kowalski and Mrs. Kowalski -- what a fantastic visit! I like showing off our mission, base and especially our Airmen. It was also great to have a session with our community leaders -- lots of good dialogue occurred at this venue. Maj. Tom Vance, 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander, and Capt. Sarah Hooker, 90th Medical Support Squadron, did an outstanding job with the visit as well as our entire protocol team.

My special thanks to all of our Airmen who had an opportunity to interact with General and Mrs. Kowalski; you all did a superb job and demonstrated the professionalism, character and toughness we value here in the Mighty Ninety. Also, Mark Warner, 90th Missile Wing Protocol, and Charles Lee, 90th Operations Squadron, put in a special appearance playing a number of songs to make the dinner with the senior leadership a big hit. What a pleasure to have hosted them here at Warren. I am grateful we have such a superb team leading Global Strike Command.

I ran into Staff Sgt Michael Pena, 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron, again last week out in the field. His professionalism was absolutely first-class. While he had a different team than when I saw him previously, it is very apparent whoever he leads, he does it with passion and focus. His team this time consisted of Airman 1st Class Darnell Joseph and James Bingham and Airman Scott Konken, all 790th MSFS. Well done!

I heard last week the Air Force lost three Airmen while operating their motorcycles. A 26 year-old staff sergeant in Air Mobility Command crashed into a street sign after he lost control of his bike. Additionally, a 25 year-old Airman 1st Class from Air Force Special Operations Command crashed into a concrete barrier while attempting to merge onto an interstate at a very high rate of speed. Both Airmen were wearing personal protective equipment and had completed the required motorcycle training course. I haven't heard details about the third Airman as of now.

Motorcycle operators of all ages and experience levels need to understand that even with PPE and motorcycle training they are not invincible. These factors are the basic framework for an enjoyable ride, but it takes common sense, riding within your skills, and ability and good personal risk management to help survive. Sadly, we lost three members of our Air Force team. Three good members we wish we could have back.

Many of you know I coach my youngest son's baseball team. We just completed our first tournament in Denver this weekend and won the event. We didn't just win, we beat the other teams with a combined score of 73-18. We have been practicing hard since January and this is another example of a team who is hungry for success. Every practice the team gets better. Like the goals we have set, they too focus on being better tomorrow than they were yesterday.

I'd like to share a story from my past with you. I spent time as a professional military education instructor at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. in the mid 1990's at Squadron Officer School. At that time, we had 12 students in each flight. Additionally, we played a game called flickerball along with games of volleyball. If you haven't played flickerball, it's nothing more than a cross between basketball, football and lacrosse except there was no contact and the rules were meant to frustrate the best of athletes.

After the first couple of days, we would bring our students into the classroom and ask them to set some goals. We would ask them to define goals in regards to the three games of flickerball and three games of volleyball the flights would play. Without a doubt each of my eight flights would come up with a goal of going five and one. This meant they thought they would win five games and lose one, considered a "safe bet." When I would hear this, I would purposely pause, stare at the slide for an uncomfortable amount of time, then say, "If you would, please let me know the game you plan to lose so I won't have to waste my time and show up."

I learned this technique from a previous instructor and mentor of mine -- Lt. Col. (ret) Dave Wright. The reaction from my comments would vary. Some would change their goal to six and zero, while others would wring their hands and continue to wrestle with the alternative view I had presented them. My point was simply this, if you don't plan to win, then how can you expect to win? Remember, flickerball was meant to frustrate the best of athletes. But it was meant to reward a flight who worked together, developed sound tactics and thoroughly prepared.

Like I have said before, if you are going to coach baseball, be the best -- not only win games, but instill in them character, toughness and discipline -- traits they will carry with them for a life time. If you are going to lead scouts, be the best scout leader; if you are going to volunteer to be a big brother or sister, be the best and make a difference. Too many folks drift through life with an attitude of "could've, should've and wish I would've." Set your goals high and don't let anyone or anything get in your way. Set a course and plan to win.

Go Forth and Conquer!