Mission first and excellence in all we do

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Eugene McFeely
  • 336th Fighter Squadron commander
Right now in Southwest Asia, it is 115 degrees with clear skies and six miles visibility. There is more than likely a 12- or 24-man team on patrol or inbound to an objective getting ready to kick in doors and take down anti-coalition forces in support of the Global War on Terror. To get to the objective, they will encounter improvised explosive devices, snipers and insurgents.

That's where the U.S. Air Force comes into play.

Right now, F-15Es are overhead either dropping laser/GPS guided bombs or employing the gun to support coalition ground troops being engaged by the enemy. The U.S. Air Force is protecting coalition forces and saving U.S. lives as one task of the many downrange. The mission is to win the GWOT.

While in garrison, it is easy to lose sight of two key things - how each of us fits into the mission from the airpower perspective and how to maintain focus and the drive to accomplish the mission in the face of obstacles to duty performance. This is especially true when we are at home performing duties which are measured by metrics and not deployed with a direct link to the mission, or we are not the ones who guide the bombs and shoot the gun. To maintain sight, all we need to do is focus on the airpower mission and our part in the big picture.

The 4th FW's role in the airpower aspect of the mission comes in the form of F-15E combat airpower. Each Airman in the 4th FW cannot be the one who physically guides the weapon to impact or squeezes the trigger on the gun which in turn saves lives of soldiers on the ground. Only aircrew perform that duty. However, every Airman in the 4th FW is responsible for enabling aircrew to execute the "trigger puller" part of the mission.

You don't have to pull the trigger to be part of the "trigger puller" mission. Just think about it, no trigger gets pulled without a combat capable, fully armed F-15E, which needs to be properly maintained and loaded. Aircrew can't deploy unless they have the proper deployment training, medical care, equipment and personal readiness posture. Once deployed, aircrews need security, a communications infrastructure and equipment to plan and fly missions. And finally, they can't focus on the mission unless they know their families are housed, protected and are happy at home.

Clearly, every Airman in the 4th FW plays a role in helping protect coalition forces and saving American lives, even if they don't pull a trigger. All of us have a part in the mission by putting F-15Es and aircrew at the correct place and time, with the right equipment to execute the trigger pull. Every Airman in the 4th FW contributes to the mission in some way, shape or form.

So, what is the motivation to maintain focus and the drive to accomplish the mission in the face of obstacles to duty performance? That one is easy. Since everyone in the 4th FW has a stake in the mission and plays an important part in that mission, everything we do has an impact on protecting coalition forces and saving U.S. lives.

When you are tired and trying to overcome obstacles to duty performance or nearing the end of a long shift, think of our brothers and sisters on the ground in Southwest Asia who are being targeted with IEDs or taking hostile fire, and remember that all you do in your duty, especially in the face of obstacles to duty performance, contributes in some way to keeping them safe.

Remember, mission first and excellence in all we do!