Everyone plays important role in mission

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ricky Keil
  • 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron
"Who here has not contributed to the death of Anti Iraqi Forces today?" asked Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe, from the 101st Airborne Division, Air Assault, at Fort Campbell, Ky., every week at the Division Main Operations Center while we were stationed in Iraq.

It was a great question, and no one ever raised his hand, ever. First, because Sergeant Major Grippe was a very imposing man, and second, because each and every person was contributing to the capture and demise of our enemies.

A few years earlier, Army Col. Joseph Smith, then commander of the 10th Mountain Division Aviation Brigade, at Fort Drum, N. Y., pulled all of his officers and senior noncommissioned officers together for an initial meeting after taking over the mission in Bosnia. His words were simple, "I don't care what patches you have on your uniform. I don't care what service you're in or whether you're active-duty, Guard or Reserve. We are here to enforce the Dayton Peace Accords, and I will treat each of you as I would treat my own 10th Mountain Division Soldiers."

He made good on his words. Even as a small Air Force team, we always got what we needed, and we did our part to meet the mission.

While their messages sounded different, both Sergeant Major Grippe and Colonel Smith were saying virtually the same thing. Everyone was important, and everyone was part of their respective teams.

When was the last time you had the opportunity to lead a diverse group of Airmen? Maybe it was the recent McConnell Open House or a deployment to the military area of responsibility. What steps did you take to make sure a clear and concise chain of command was established? Did you pull people in ahead of time, or did you "wing it?" Did you rely heavily on the people from your own unit or section simply because you knew them and their capabilities therefore -- leaving out many other people who could have helped?

Many times when we look back at failures, we can readily see that key leadership was absent at critical points. In the absence of leadership, chaos and confusion usually prevail. Taking some simple preliminary steps, along with following up, can go a long way to eliminate that chaos.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to lead those who are given to us to meet the mission. Maybe you could approach the situation like Colonel Smith, and pull everyone aside first, outline expectations and standards and press forward with the mission at hand. Grab those who will be running your units, work centers and teams, and let them know the mission, what you will do for them, and what you want in return. Or, like Sergeant Major Grippe, talk to your team on a regular basis, let them know how they're doing, what they're doing and relate it back to the bigger mission.

In this Global War on Terror, we are faced with situations that require leadership of diverse groups of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. Take the time to set those expectations, take care of them as you would care for anyone under your charge, and let them know they are vital to the success of the mission. I'm here today to tell you, you are critical to our success. If I walk in your office today, will you raise your hand if asked the same question posed by Sergeant Major Grippe?