Imagine you’re deployed. Your base has been mortared and you are leading a post attack sweep team. The very lives of your team depend on the collective actions of each team member. Think about what would happen if one person acted alone.
Now, imagine you are recalled and standing in a deployment line. You’re depending on everyone in that line to verify you have all the equipment, vaccines and critical information you need to execute your mission. What would happen if one of the deployment line team didn’t pay close enough attention?
“We are airmen first, specialists second,” according to Air Force Instruction 36-2618, the Enlisted Force Structure.
When considering these broad and recurring examples vital to our mission, one overarching theme is repeatedly projected, Teamwork. In fact, this critical, core tenet of our mission is so vital to our success that our most revered leaders ingrained it into our core value of service before self.
In addition to Air Force core values, teamwork is deeply etched into AFI 36-2618, the base and governing doctrine of our enlisted force structure. The AFI tells us that airmen are instructed to understand the wingman concept. Being a good wingman means we share a common bond and can be counted on to support each other, in all situations.
Considering how important teamwork is to all tiers in accomplishing mission goals, what would happen if teamwork were undermined by the selfish actions of individuals who valued their job and their mission impact above others?
Moreover what would happen if those selfish actions devalued and excluded local members of our Air Force team from the bigger Air Force team and its far-reaching mission? The answer to this is simple and we don’t even need to pay a motivational speaker to lecture us, nor do we need a checklist to show us how it plays out.
The bottom line is, exclusion results in teams breaking down, degrading our greatest resource capabilities and eventually resulting in mission failure. With this in mind, we must remain alert and actively hold violators accountable for undermining the substantive teamwork.
I ask that you remain vigilant and do not accept exclusion in its varied forms even if it appears popular or covertly humorous.