Commentary

April 5, 2013

Mission focus vs. mission detractors

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Col. Peter S. Ford
57th Advanced Tactics Group Commander

Colonel
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Our mission to fly, fight and win in numerous environments requires intense focus … minute by minute. If we lose this focus, we risk our mission.

Red Flag 13-3 just finished. During this demanding time, we all safely accomplished weapons school, advanced operational tests, Thunderbird season preparation, aggressor operations and base-wide warfare center tasks professionally. Add the continuous daily interface with our Creech AFB family and these accomplishments showcase the intense focus our Airmen operate with daily.

This successful mission focus competed with several national-level detractors worth noting. Our Air Force is under intense financial, physical, sexual and emotional tension. These detractors challenge our mission focus.

There are few of us, and the loss of even a few is costly. Folks who improperly use people, time and assets for personal benefit or pleasure are doing this at the expense of our mission.

Most often, another Airman pays the price. Members of a family should not tolerate this for their brothers and sisters …
much less from their brothers or sisters.

Let’s look at our situation historically. Our mission has grown from the days of propellers and strictly visual-range weapons. We now have innumerable, exciting, global missions … and a vastly different array of Airmen accomplishing these missions. We should gather lessons from our past and should always seek these lessons. However, we cannot dwell on past mistakes without risking today’s mission focus.

So, if you are currently paying the price for an abuse in the past – sexually, emotionally, physically or financially – please let us know! We will work to get this corrected. There are numerous leaders and efforts to help. Helping you will help all of us accomplish our duty more efficiently and restore a family member to mission ready status sooner.

In the future, we’ll lower mission failure, capture valuable lessons, and successfully fight off mission detractors by employing these three measures:

  • Fervently focus on your individual part of our mission, accomplish the job at hand, and then take further beneficial action efficiently. This mission focus will not allow time for abuse.
  • Prepare for the next “fight”; use a family mentality on this step to defend our fellow wingmen. Do not tolerate someone abusing them, especially one of our own!
  • Keep opinions and emotions in their rightful place. We should expect and respect emotions and opinions, but we cannot honor them. Taking action on an opinion or emotion is a mission detractor. Only honor and take action for fulfilling our mission.

Lastly, like me, you have opinions and emotions on these mission detractors. We should respect these opinions and emotions but not act on them. There is a difference between respect and honor.

Webster’s dictionary defines respect as “worthy of giving attention,” and it defines honor as “worthy of acting on.” Let’s take comfort in knowing emotions and opinions are regarded but subservient to the mission.

This focus allows us to honor our mission and reach even greater milestones for our Air Force and Nellis.




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