Preparation for the future

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kelly Martin
  • 92nd Operations Support Squadron commander
One of our nation's greatest presidents once said, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my axe." Those immortal words were spoken by President Lincoln as he led the country during one of the most significant conflicts in our nation's history, the Civil War. We at Fairchild face a tree of our own. While it may not rise in significance to the level of the Civil War, our near-term exercises and the Operational Readiness Inspection in the spring loom large in everyone's minds.

Between now and each of those evaluations we will train, we will practice, we will exercise. We will do all of this as individuals, we will do it as units and we will do it as a wing. We will do all of this because it is only in the "six hours sharpening our axe" that we will truly reach our potential.

Winston Churchill once said, "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." Now that doesn't mean strength or intelligence is not important, it is. But if we are to truly become excellent, if we are to earn that "Outstanding" rating - which we all know we are capable of - we must prepare.

Preparation is hard work and it is not glamorous. Webster's Dictionary defines preparation as "any proceeding, experience, or the like accomplished in order to put in proper condition or readiness." Or simply said, it is doing a task over and over until that task is mastered correctly, and then doing it again.

Sometimes a person or unit gets it right the first time; usually it takes several attempts before a task is mastered. But we should not fear making mistakes, for in the end a person will learn far more from his mistakes than from his perfections. And since we don't have time to make all the mistakes, we must learn from each other's mistakes.

The bottom line is that we are entering eight months of preparation that will require all of our efforts. At the same time we will continue to send Airmen into the area of responsibility in support of the Global War on Terrorism. To achieve victory on both fronts will be challenging. We'll push hard and be pulled thinned. We'll do outstanding on each evaluation the same way we will win the Global War on Terrorism. And if you reach your limit and are tempted to throw in the proverbial towel, remember the words of Winston Churchill spoken to Harrow School in 1941, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."

Note: Lt. Col. Martin wrote this editorial from Fort Dix where she is in Advance Contingency Skills Training in preparation for her deployment to Iraq.