It’s about teammates who trust each other

  • Published
  • By Col. James Crowhurst
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander
"In the end, this is about trust between you and me, between our Air Force and our teammates, and it is about trust with our customer, the American people. Reputations are hard to earn and easy to lose. So every day, we, individually and collectively, must strive to sustain that reputation, which is that we are a trustworthy and reliable partner on the battlefield, that we will do what is needed. And so, ladies and gentlemen, from whatever discipline you are in, whatever command you are in, whatever your background, this is our Air Force. This is our family."

Last fall, our Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz delivered these inspiring words as he closed his speech at the annual Airlift Tanker Asscociation Convention in Nashville, Tenn. On the eve of multiple inspections, I encourage each of you to reflect on these words, and think about what it means to be a trustworthy teammate in your functional area, in our wing, and in our great Air Force.

Our recent major accident response exercises have provided us with great opportunities to build confidence in our ability to respond to a broad spectrum of crisis scenarios on our base. Even more importantly, it's helped us build trust in one another as we've worked to quickly isolate the problem, minimize lose of life and get our wing back to executing our mission.

In these situations as your leadership sits together as the crisis action team, there is a natural stress while we sift through a constant flow of information. That's why we have checklists to run to ensure we think through the issue and take appropriate action. They help us prioritize and focus on the tactics, techniques and procedures in place to keep our wing running safely.

Many of us have been through an Air Force training program that helped us learn this focus on checklist discipline and procedures. As a brandnew second leuitenant at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., I distinctly remember my pilot-training, flight commander grilling my classmates and me on emergency procedures. The emphasis was always placed on following procedure.

"Follow the proper emergency procedure, and you will live to fly another day," he said.

As the students, we were required to brief the instructors on the day's weather, airfield notices and other administrative items. Following the daily brief, the flight commander set up the stand up, an in-flight emergency scenario where a pilot candidate was singled out to explain how he or she would recover the aircraft safely. If your name was called and you did not recover the aircraft in a satisfactory manner, you would be removed from the flying schedule for the day to study the emergency procedures. Then, the following day, you'd be required to accomplish another stand up.

The MAREs we have been conducting in preparation for the Unit Compliance Inspection emergency management inspection are analogous to the pilot training stand-up emergency exercises; both test our ability to think clearly and survive in strenuous life-threatening situations. This training ensures we don't let our fellow Airmen down when it matters most.

In addition to the base-wide UCI, the 22nd Operations Group will have an aircrew standarization evalauation; the 22nd Maintenance Group and portions of the 22nd Mission Support Group will undergo a logisitics capability assessment; and our 22nd OG Weather Flight will be evaluated by higher headquarters. All of these inspections are about compliance. The inspectors ensure we're following all appropriate guidance as we carry out our mission. We owe it to each other to follow all guidance for our functional areas and give one another candid feedback if something isn't correct. We're more effective as a team when we help each other remain compliant.

As our inspection preparations enter the final two weeks, and the capabilities of your organization are stressed, I encourage leaders to reflect on how to build trust among their teammates. You have the capabilities to handle anything the inspectors throw at us. You each have effective procedures and processes in your functional areas, and most important, you have trustworthy teammates. Rely on each other and we'll do great.