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COMMENTARY: Don't be an ostrich leader

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Tims
  • 90th Missile Wing commander
Ostrich leadership. When an ostrich is scared, they hide their head in the sand. Actually, their defensive behavior is to lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Obviously, the appearance is their head is in the sand.

Needless to say, I'm not a fan of what I would call "Ostrich Leadership."

Ostrich leadership is hiding when things get tough. It's not facing up to your responsibilities. It's walking by a problem. It's watching a wingman go down in flames when you could have prevented it. It's bringing only problems to your boss without a recommended solution. Ostrich leadership destroys the discipline fibers that hold an organization together.

Ostrich leadership is cowardly.

When you see this type of behavior, you should confront it. You should correct it without hesitation.

Ostrich-like behavior is not needed nor condoned in the profession of arms.

Last week Chief Master Sgt. Marty Anderson, 90th Missile Wing command chief, and I attended the first-ever Air Force Global Strike Command commanders conference hosted by Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, AFGSC commander. This was an absolutely first-class event.

It was good to come together with fellow warriors from the bomber community; we all have a common language. Each of the wing commanders and wing command chiefs that attended have a mission like ours: the war we are fighting and the war we are deterring. I'd like to share with you some of the highlights from the conference.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, opened up the conference with a greeting from the Pentagon. He praised the men and women at all the AFGSC bases for what they have accomplished. The job is demanding and requires our very best.

We heard from Neil Sheehan, who spoke about his book, "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War." I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in gaining a greater understanding of the evolution of ICBMs and the arms race that changed history.

It tells of Gen. Bernard Schriever's journey and the many challenges he faced. The book gave me an even greater appreciation of the concepts of persistence and tenacity.

Col. Melvin Deaile presented his dissertation: "The SAC Mentality: The Origins of Organizational Culture in Strategic Air Command, 1946-1962." I found his dissertation very insightful. He goes into depth about organizational culture. He analyzes the dynamics that caused the Air Force to separate from the Army and how the bomber command grew into SAC as well as how missiles were the added punch to this new command.

Gen. (ret.) John Shaud and Gen. (ret.) Lance Lord were our senior mentors. I find that hearing from those who have paved the path we are currently on can shed valuable insight and pass their wisdom on to the next generation. They too are proud of us for what we have done and what we do for our nation.

One of AFGSC's goals is to become a model command. With senior mentors such as General Shaud and General Lord, as well as our commitment to daily excellence, I have no doubt we will obtain this goal.

We also heard from Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, be sure not to miss the opportunity. He reminded us that our profession is one of service to others and country. He challenged all of us to wake up every day, run hard and make a difference.

We also got a rundown of the upcoming Bomber and Missile Competition.

Those of you who were not around in the days of the SAC Missile Competition, which turned into Olympic Arena, and eventually renamed Guardian Challenge, this is a great way to enhance our combat capability. Those who compete bring back lessons learned into various disciplines, making units even more lethal, strong and efficient.

Things continue to go well in the Mighty Ninety. As we continue to tackle issues head-on, and avoid leadership styles like "ostrich leadership," our wing contributes wholeheartedly to the mission of Air Force Global Strike Command. Each and every Airman in the 90th Missile Wing is responsible for his or her piece of that mission, and you continue to make me proud as we help to build a model command.

Go Forth and Conquer!