Commentary

February 15, 2013

Communication: the great equalizer

Master Sgt. DOUGLAS MCGRAW
56th Equipment Mainteance Squadron

More than 70 years ago, over the skies of England, a mighty duel in the sky took place, the Battle of Britain. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, “never in the field of conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Churchill’s statement couldn’t be any more true today as it was then, especially with our current manning and fiscal restraints.

But are we led to believe that the Battle of Britain was won by the pilots alone? Of course not, there were so many players in that against-all-odds victory.

The two main aircraft that thrust into the spotlight were the British Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt Me-109.

The British had approximately 600 aircraft to the Germans’ massive air armada of 3,000. The planes were very much equal, but if we were to look at the numbers we might find something quite interesting. The Spitfire could turn better than the Me-109 with a 2.8G turn vs. the Me-109’s 2.4G turn. But during a dive, the Me-109 had the advantage by three seconds due to the Spitfire having no fuel injection in the engine. This required the plane to roll into the dive which caused the aircraft to lose valuable seconds.

Lastly in the climb, the Me-109 had a climb rate of 200 feet per minute greater than the Spitfire. In the end, it would appear that the Spitfire wasn’t the decisive factor that led to British victory.

So what was it?

One would think it must be the “few” that were integral to the victory. It turns out it wasn’t the pilots alone who tilted the scales in Britain’s favor. It was something that the military community talks about continually, but we don’t often think about how it can change the outcome of a given situation.
Because the British knew they were heavily outnumbered, they had to devise a plan that would increase their odds for victory.

It turns out that their plan entailed the use of precise and timely communication which was used to mass what few aircraft they had to intercept the Germans in the air, thus winning the battle that they were expected to lose.

Currently we find ourselves continually struggling with our communication in today’s Air Force. But with the technology we have at our disposal today, communication is useless without it being precise and timely up and down the chain of command.

So my charge to you is to keep this in mind as you conduct your current operations and see what you can to do to improve your section’s communication flow.

It doesn’t matter whether you work at the hospital, flightline or lodging; when you improve your communication you’ll see your processes flowing smoother than ever before.




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