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Vital Heavy Lifting - Every Day

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. C. Donald Alston
  • 20th Air Force commander
ICBM forces within Air Force Global Strike Command operate in an environment where the quality of our work has great consequence every day. The responsibility we share is greater nowhere else in our Air Force. Unlike many other jobs and professions, we can't have a bad day. When we successfully drive towards perfection, we contribute to deterrence. If we fall short of our high standards, the credibility of the alert force is weakened.

So what does this daily pursuit of perfection take?

Daily preparation

First, it's daily preparation. Extensive training underwrites our readiness, but a thorough examination of today's tasks, with a look in each other's eyes to ensure understanding of the work ahead sets the tone for the day. Daily preparation is also a close examination of the tools and equipment involved to ensure you have what you need, perfect technical data included. And its ensuring leadership is fully aware of any help you need. Whatever you are about to do, it's a collaboration with members of a different Group, because none of us performs alone in the ICBM complex. Your depth of understanding how the security forces member or the maintenance technician or the missile crew member supports you in your task - from their point of view -- will distinctly improve your value to your team. Additionally, there will be days when the weapon system will present itself to you in challenging ways, despite its exquisite engineering, extraordinary maintainability, safety and reliability. And at that time, your training, preparation and depth of knowledge will carry you and your team through to success.

Adherence to technical orders

The next ingredient is found in the absolute adherence to technical orders. There's no compromise here. It's in the book. If you have a suggestion to improve tech data, you know there's a process for that - and until there's a change, what's currently in the tech data is the authorized way to the job.

24/7 mentality

Next, it is a 24/7 mentality the likes of which I have only found in the nuclear business and a combat zone. We are in our war fighting positions right now securing peace and stability, delivering the nation's most ready, first-strike deterrent capability. Days are long and Saturdays might as well be Tuesdays - often. But whatever it takes, we give because nuclear weapons and strategic deterrence demand that level of commitment.

Nuclear surety and safety

Another critical ingredient is an overarching commitment to nuclear surety and safety because our nation cannot afford to possess nuclear weapons if our leadership and citizens could not be assured that nuclear weapons and support systems will be properly handled and secured by exceptionally well-trained, disciplined professionals. Safety and nuclear-surety conscious leaders and teams ensure this success daily.

Self-critical culture

And finally, it is a self-critical culture that examines today's performance and identifies ways to improve. Did the day's activities play out the way you planned them? Did you have to alter your approach to the task? Beyond the task at hand - the alert function, the MGS R&R, the weekly security check, etc., are you contributing to an atmosphere that is always trying to improve your knowledge and understanding of the Minuteman III weapon system and how each Group in the wing mutually supports success?

I am proud of you and our collective commitment to this mission. I have gotten out of bed every morning throughout my career fueled by the incredible responsibility our AF gave me all along the way, with none greater than when I began to work in the ICBM business as a 22-year old. The mission depended on me for success then, just as it depends on you - and all of us -- today.