It Takes a Team

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Teamwork is often emphasized as essential to military success. Often, you will hear military and civilian leadership speak of how impressive the entire military team is, and how the men and women who serve in the armed forces are key to our national security. It is important to note that when the nation's leaders discuss a significant military victory or achievement, the speaker focuses on the men and women who made it happen.

What we don't hear is a soliloquy on the powerful weapons and support systems the men and women operate to achieve that victory. There is a good reason for that. While our weapon systems are impressive, it is the people who make it all happen. Without high quality people who know their responsibilities and who are empowered to lead through the situations they face daily, our military would not be effective. The source of our strength is the ability of our professionals to work as a team. Indeed, teamwork lies at the heart of all our successes--no one can go it alone, given the great responsibilities placed on our military.

When we hear about teams, sports analogies always come to mind. But, what does it take to be a part of a team? What does it take to be a part of a successful team?

It takes proactive thinking: what can I do to get the job done? This line of thinking must be followed with skill. Each team member must know their job and be good at it. Wanting to do something is the first step. Having the skills needed to perform is the second--and vital--piece. This takes individual investment in developing the skills the team will need to achieve its goal. In military terms, each Airman must know their job to their fullest. In ICBM operations, there is no room for incomplete knowledge or substandard performance. The exacting demands of this mission require a commitment from every Airman to perform to their highest levels at all times.

Individual effort is needed, but we don't function as individuals. We are all a part of a team, working to complete a mission. Therein lies the true value of each Airman and civilian performing the mission. As our Air Force gets smaller, the value of each person increases exponentially. With fewer people performing the mission, we all work harder and become more dependent on one another. The strength of the team resides in how well we work with one another, and how well we empower each team member to achieve their full potential and accomplish the mission.

Being on a team is demanding--especially when your team's mission is providing a safe, secure and effective deterrent force for the United States and its allies. But it is also rewarding. It is personally rewarding to know that your job knowledge and skill set make accomplishing the mission possible. It is also great to work with so many talented people across the different Air Force specialties to achieve success. It is important to realize that no one person alone has all the skillsets required for team success. Each Airman, at all levels of rank and skill, contribute to the overall success. We must all appreciate and respect the roles each Airman or civilian plays in completing the mission. With respect--for the mission and for each other--mission accomplishment becomes that much easier.

So, how can you be a good team member? It is pretty simple: know your job, respect others and work together. Basic tenets many of us learned during our first exposure to team sports. Maybe you dreamed of going pro one day--the good news is, you are a pro. And, the whole team is counting on YOU. Make us proud.