What makes us mission-ready?

  • Published
  • By Col. Mark Hoehn
  • 49th Operations Group
Even if you've just recently arrived at Holloman during the summer PCS cycle, you're probably intimately aware that the 49th Wing's Combined Unit Inspection is only a month away.

For nearly a year, many of you have either executed or witnessed organizational program self-assessment checklists being run and reviewed. Maybe you've coordinated or observed a Staff Assistance Visit in your functional area. Certainly we've all become more familiar with buzzwords like "compliance" or computer-based inspection aids such as MICT. So where are we with regards to our CUI prep? Are we ready?

Does your mind immediately picture a stoplight chart in which you show your programs and processes "green" across the board, or do you have some deficiencies remaining? Maybe we shouldn't be asking ourselves if we're ready for the CUI, but rather "Are we mission-ready?" If the answer to this last question is an honest "YES," then you're more than likely inspection- ready as well. But what does mission readiness really mean?

I recently heard mission readiness defined as "being prepared for what the nation asks us to do, when and where they need us to do it and in the manner they expect us to do it." It wasn't the what, when and where that got me thinking, but rather the use of the word "manner" in which the public expects us to accomplish our mission that really struck me.

The reality is that the manner in which we accomplish our mission is all about maintaining standards and a constant improvement process for those standards. It's about managing resources and personnel and being good stewards of our national treasures. In a nutshell, it's about leadership at all levels, down to our youngest Airman. This is exactly what a CUI is designed to measure how well we incentivize innovation and promote smart compliance on a continual basis, so that we're not worried about the what, when and where. It isn't about forcing "greens" on a chart a month out from an inspection.

Knowing something is screwed up is actually a very good thing, because only when a problem is identified can time, energy and resources be prioritized against it. As leaders and wingmen we should encourage each other to identify challenges, but thinking through and developing solid solutions is what we should reward. Highly successful organizations execute this on a continuous basis and aren't afraid of owning the scars of positive change.

Sometimes these positive changes place us in momentary periods of valid non-compliance. Non-compliance in these cases isn't due to negligence, ignorance or intentional disregard (those are never valid), but from a deliberate prioritization or our readiness. Don't accept the tendency to make excuses or seek inappropriate waivers; and never pursue inadequate, illegal or immoral solutions just to color a square. These are the tactics and techniques of less capable units.

Let's show ACC that whether next week, next month or next year ours is a culture of compliance and not simply a "snap-back" to standards in preparation for an inspection. As Fightin' Forty-Niners, when we say we're mission-ready we understand that it is the sustained manner of our preparation which underwrites our ability to Fly, Fight and Win.