Commentary Search

Fixed what needed fixed… we just did it

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott Fox
  • 90th Missile Wing vice commander
When Col. Tims asked me to write this week's commentary, it occurred to me that it has been just a bit more than a year since I moved into the vice commander's office and wrote my first commentary in that new role. As I looked back at that first article, titled "90th MW vice commander offers Airmen advice," I realized I'd found the topic I'd been looking for. Specifically, I wondered two things - 1) was the advice good advice, and 2) did it have a positive effect on the wing and our mission?

"Just do it" was my overarching admonition - like the successful advertising slogan. Other recommendations included following the old adage of "not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today" and some specific thoughts and ideas identified by the great college basketball coach John Wooden that would be equally valuable to us in Air Force Global Strike Command. He reminded each person to always ask "How can I help our team improve?" He also reminded us not to let "what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." In the end, I suggested that everyone could improve team performance by stopping when there was something that needed to be done and taking action rather than just walking by.

How have we done? Do you think the members of the 90th Missile Wing and our F. E. Warren community have stopped and taken action when something needed to be done? Did we work together to improve our team's performance? Did we focus on what we could do and not let the challenges we faced hinder our forward progress? I'm not sure what your answer is, but mine is a resounding "YES" to all of the above. Let me offer just a few examples.

Can any of you tell me when the last government vehicle rolled over in our missile complex? There was a day, in the not too distant past, when that metric was at the top of every senior leader's watch list. Today, I have to go ask the wing safety office how long it's been and that number is approaching two years! What changed? Individuals at all levels decided to take responsibility for their own and their team's actions and made a change. Good decisions are being made every day and we "just did it."

My next example involves seatbelts and cell phones. Several months ago, I couldn't drive from my quarters to my office without seeing at least two or three individuals operating personal vehicles (and some government vehicles) without buckling up, holding their cell phone up to their ear, or both. Today, however, you really have to look to find someone driving on base doing either of those things. What changed? People heard the concern and took action. Units set up random seatbelt/cell phone checkpoints, our security forces added additional emphasis to both education and enforcement, and leaders across base reinforced the importance of following rules and doing the safe thing. Said another way, the wing didn't focus on what we couldn't do (prevent EVERYONE from breaking the law) and focused on what we could do ... and we did it.

I could talk about the transportation section of our logistics readiness squadron who, working as a team established themselves as the command's experts in shipping nuclear weapons related material - with zero errors. I could talk about unit leadership who developed programs to prepare their members for new fitness standards and then doubled their efforts for those who needed a little more help. I could talk about medics who found new and innovated ways to ensure the tens of thousands of pages in our members' medical records were scrubbed and any information that may affect a member's reliability was correctly shared with the individual's commander. Oh by the way, I haven't even mentioned the success our wing achieved during the first-ever Global Strike Challenge! I could go on and on with specific examples, but I think you get the point!

Every day we find people making decisions, paying attention to the details and taking action that has a direct and positive effect on our bottom line - and that bottom line is our wing mission of providing preeminent combat capability across the spectrum of conflict. More importantly, though, I don't see any indication that the members of the Mighty Ninety are going to let up any time soon.

As we press forward into a new year, a year that we know will have a number of significant challenges, I find myself very confident in my original "YES" answer to my two questions. I'm confident that individuals are stopping to fix what needs to be fixed. I'm confident people are not just walking by, and I'm confident our team approach to daily mission readiness and excellence is a solid foundation upon which we will continue to build success after success.