Battle stations!

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia
  • 49th Fighter Wing command chief
In just a short time, command inspection teams will descend on our base and after a period of close observation, render an opinion on our compliance to Air Force directives and more importantly, our ability to conduct wartime operations. The inspection period and the pre-inspection stages can be both stressful and exhilarating at the same time. Let's look at it for what it is, an incredible opportunity to showcase our talents, our warrior spirit, technical competence and our capacity to answer our nation's call. Isn't this what we signed up for?

As we prepare for our exercises, I'm reminded of a saying I heard long ago, "You can see the elephants a mile away but the ants will eat you alive." What this means is, as we prepare for the "big picture" we can't lose sight of the small details. We can't assume that someone else has taken care of them. The smallest parts of a project -- what we consider the minutia -- if left unattended, unchecked or worse, ignored, can come back to wreak havoc on the best plan. Let me elaborate.

What does wearing a hair net and washing your hands before you cook food at the dining facility have in common with launching jets? You may think I'm reaching or this example is a bit of a stretch but I saw it for myself. Years ago while at a temporary duty location, lack of supervision, loose protocol with cooking directives and marginal food quality equaled wiping out half of a large senior leadership team for days with serious food poisoning. In fact, so many people were sick at the same time and due to the timing, the first thought people had was that this was a calculated attack. When in reality after closer inspection, it was lack of attention to the smallest of details. E-coli 6, leadership team -3, get the point?

Another moral to this story is just like the game "Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon" we are all interrelated to each other. We are one team and our success or failure rides on all of our shoulders equally. Think of this when the call goes out for us to man our battle stations.

To be ready, I've started my own prep work, concentrating on my "ant mounds" if you will. I'm catching up on my computer based training, signing appointment letters, reading more AFIs. I also recently dedicated three hours to read my Airman's Manual cover to cover, and made a commitment to myself to have it close by at all times.

With the right sight picture and a plan in place, I have no doubt the inspectors will leave our base knowing why they call this place the home of the Fightin' Forty-Niners. Let's "dig in," see you in the trenches!

Airman Tapia