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Sweat the Small Stuff

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. William Barrington Jr.
  • 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron commander
I recently had an opportunity to learn about nuclear weapon design from some of the original engineers and physicists who designed the weapons that are in our custody. It struck me that weapons we have in the deterrent force today were designed and built 35 years ago, with vastly different technology and computing power. Furthermore, we recently passed the 20 year anniversary of our last nuclear test in the United States. Today, a new generation of engineers and physicists certifies the stockpile with cutting edge technology, supercomputers and science-based tests. They carry on the legacy of the designers of a generation ago through stockpile stewardship, allowing the continued certification of the safety, security and reliability of the stockpile without nuclear testing.

Other segments of the weapon system -- the Minuteman boosters, launch facilities, missile alert facilities and support equipment continue to be tested, modified and upgraded. In fact, we recently completed another successful Simulated Electronic Launch Minuteman test. Everything we do to the weapon system--from maintenance and sustainment, to operations and security--requires a rigorous attention to detail. In our business it's important to maintain the highest level of precision in both personal proficiency and equipment. I ask that you think about the following:

- Sweat the small stuff: don't walk past a problem or accept substandard performance or equipment. Doing so erodes our standards. We must maintain the highest level of excellence in personnel and equipment.
- There are times when you may have to question the status quo. Have you ever been told, "We've always done it this way?" Ask why! In our business, shortcuts or "systems knowledge" are not acceptable. Do it by the book every time.

- You sign your work. Maybe you don't physically sign, but you are responsible for correctly accomplishing your assigned task. Whether you are a doctor, civil engineer, defender, maintainer or missileer, you have an impact on some part of the weapon system every day. When you certify your work, you are acknowledging that you have completed the job correctly and upheld the surety of whatever part of the weapon system you are responsible for.

Adherence to procedures ensures the weapon system performs the way it was designed and intended. Every time you interact with the weapon system and personnel you are creating your own legacy and leaving your impact on nuclear surety and deterrence.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Our vigilance day in and day out ensures freedom and liberty for our nation and our allies. Stay vigilant -- sweat the small stuff. The actions we take today carry on the legacy started by the designers, operators and support personnel from the Manhattan Project and Trinity to today.