Use wing commander’s vectors as a daily guide

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Gary Elliott
  • 92nd Operations Group Superintendent
Another wing stand-up meeting... as always, it begins with a Power Point slide of the wing commander's vector:

Take care of the mission first. Take care of each other to build trust and an unbeatable team. Take care of yourself with a personal commitment to be the best.

The room becomes silent as everyone rapidly revisits their unit's accomplishments from the past week so that, if called upon, they can provide an example of what their unit did to support the vector. As a squadron commander volunteers an example, for a moment I am lost in thought...

Do our Airmen truly understand the significance of Colonel Guemmer's vector? Do our Airmen understand what this wing would be capable of if they went about their day with this vector in the forefront of their minds? Do our Airmen understand the consequences of their daily actions (and in-actions)? Do our Airmen understand the role they play in our wing and the significance of their contributions toward accomplishing the wing's mission?

As the wing executive officer briefs the deployment rate slide, I reflect on the fact that, in the last four months, more than 30 percent of our wing's Airmen have been deployed to one of 38 different locations. Nearly 500 Airmen across the base are currently supporting overseas contingency operations. Our aircrews and aircraft are being tasked by Air Mobility Command well beyond our maximum sustainable rate. Currents ops tempo has left precious few Airmen at Fairchild to hold the line and meet our in-garrison responsibilities. Now more than ever, we are being asked to do more with less - and never has it been more important that we accomplish our mission with the utmost of professionalism.

As we continue through the slides, various wing agencies brief the number of weekly PT failures, the status of government travel card delinquencies, overdue performance reports and personal individual mobility readiness deficiencies. The wing metrics ebb and flow on a week-to-week basis, yet we have never reached zero failures, zero balance, zero late reports or 100 percent mobility-ready status. Not once. Every week I see documentation of the fact that a few of our Airmen have chosen not to change their lifestyle and prepare for their physical fitness test, have failed to file an accrual voucher in a timely manner, have failed to complete performance reports by the close-out date and have failed to attend required medical readiness appointments. This may sound bland, whiny and negative, but the problem is that each process failure systematically results in an increased manpower cost at all wing levels.

I have had the opportunity to fill the role of the senior enlisted leader in various organizations. In doing so, I have witnessed failures both large and small, and have seen the far-reaching impact of those failures at the personal and organizational level. Failing to accomplish even the little things can have a major impact on an individual's career, can negatively impact unit morale and can significantly degrade the ability of a wing to perform its mission. In almost every instance, process failures can be traced back to the choice of an individual or organization not to follow a directive, maintain or enforce a standard or address a problem.

Commanders, superintendents and first sergeants spend an inordinate amount of time each week running down offenders and ensuring proper corrections are taken to put Airmen and organizations back on track. This is the same critical time that was intended to be spent planning and preparing for future missions and ensuring their Airmen's performance is being properly captured and recognized through quality reports and awards submissions, as well as tackling quality of life issues for their unit. The loss of this time negatively impacts every program and Airman within the organization. When Airmen choose not to put forth excellence in all they do, the price is paid by everyone in the unit.

By contrast, I have also been fortunate to work in several very successful organizations, where each unit's performance level throughout the wing was almost magical. The difference? At every level within the wing, Airmen were not satisfied with merely being a technical expert. They wanted more - professionally and personally. It simply was not good enough for any of them to focus strictly on their personal duties - they were concerned about being the best team. The wing's leadership was allowed time to focus on upcoming challenges and dedicate time to improving opportunities for professional development and quality of life. Morale was high and despite the ever-increasing mission tasking(s) our Airmen found they had more time to focus on family and school. The synergistic effects of Airmen working together propelled the wing to multiple successes and resulted in benefits to Airmen's careers at every level. We were an unbeatable team.

How can you help? Understand the purpose and vision of Colonel Guemmer's vector and use it as a guide for your daily decisions and behavior. Guard against a mentality that puts self before service and refuse to accept anything less than your best. Don't take the line that "it's not your job." Challenge yourself, your Airmen, and your unit to be better - foster team building and promote an approach that does not allow anyone to walk from a problem. Take the extra step to learn about your teammates' challenges and lend a hand when possible. Don't let your behavior, actions or the actions of a fellow Airman erode the team's trust and take every opportunity to educate and mentor our Airmen (officer, enlisted and civilian) for personal growth and organizational success.