Teamwork is the Key

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David Nelson
  • 82nd Mission Support Group superintendent
It takes every one of us, military, civilian, contractor and volunteer, working together each and every day to successfully deliver the technically superior and highly-motivated warrior Airmen our Air Force needs. This was never more evident than during our recent Unit Compliance Inspection.

We quickly learned how programs owned by one unit can have a severe impact on another unit's inspection rating. We learned the true meaning of "commander's programs" and the importance of follow-up and accountability. We also realized we could no longer focus solely on our unique and specific mission sets, as we took on active roles in electronic records management and emergency management.

As the blinders fell off, we started to better understand each of our units' missions and how we depend on each other for success. These lessons learned were validated as the inspection ran its course and now every unit is working hand-in-hand to fix broken programs and processes and set our wing up for far greater success.

Brig. Gen. O.G. Mannon, 82nd Training Wing commander, has told us the UCI is not over just because the inspectors have left. I would like to add that our learning and understanding of each other's roles doesn't stop either. The best way to accomplish this is with our emerging leaders.

It is imperative our talented young Airmen, NCOs and officers are equipped to recognize the correlation between their individual jobs and our wing's mission. We also need to ensure they understand how decisions made at their levels can impact individuals across the wing and even affect other installations.

Some parallels are easier to draw than others. This first is the easiest to see; it's with our students themselves. If they don't do their job, which is to learn, our wing's mission fails and the Air Force is unable to fill critical positions. It's also very easy to see the connection between our instructors and technical training students; if instructors don't teach, students don't learn, and our Air Force once again quickly feels the ramifications. Both of these points ring even truer when you consider the impact of our Field Training Detachment missions.

A third correlation lies between our military training leaders and our Airmen in Training. It's simple to understand this relationship and how their interaction impacts the mission. Yet there are also a host of other Airmen, civilians and contractors supporting more than 25,000 personnel who traverse Sheppard on a daily basis. They are our comptrollers, personnelists, contracting specialists, logisticians, security forces, firefighters, communicators, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, day care providers, cooks, cashiers, lawyers and librarians, just to name a few. We know these great folks support our students, but do they have the same mission impact as the instructor or the MTL?

Of course they do! Every job on this base is just as critical to the successful completion of our wing mission as the next. Think about the ramifications if our student assignment section stops processing assignments, if our immunization technicians stopped giving shots, if our doctors stopped seeing patients or if our firefighters quit training.
There are dozens of events that occur every day which would define teamwork, but I want to expand on two significant examples. Both Exodus and the Christmas Eve snowstorm show the criticality of teamwork and its impact on the wing's ability to meet its mission. The massive effort exerted from personnel across the spectrum of the wing during both of these events was astounding!

For Exodus, it took a spectacular effort from 82nd Training Operations, Contracting and the Force Support Squadron, not to mention our MTL's, first sergeants, commanders, and chiefs to get our students off Sheppard and home for the holidays. If any one of these entities would have failed to hold up their end of the bargain, the entire endeavor would have failed. Yet, no one involved with this mission was going to let that happen. Everyone understood their role in the process and how their actions impacted the next step of the process. Teamwork made it happen!

Then, just when we thought we could rest, Wichita Falls was hit by a severe ice and snow storm on Christmas Eve. Once again, to pull the wing and surrounding communities through it took a total base effort.

Dining facility employees, lodging staff and civil engineers stayed overnight at the Sheppard Inn, just to ensure critical base services remained open over the following days. Airmen in Training bused tables at the Dining Facility, personnel from different organizations took supplies to a local shelter and our wing commander led several group and squadron commanders in rescuing stranded motorists. All of these operations displayed the phenomenal attitude and dedication of our Airmen and the outstanding teamwork that is the hallmark of Team Sheppard.

There isn't one person within this wing, regardless of rank or position, that isn't a vital component in the well-oiled machine we call the 82nd Training Wing. As members of the greatest Air Force the world has ever known, we strive every day to accomplish our mission to the best of our ability. It doesn't matter whether you wear ABUs, BDUs, a flight suit, mechanic coveralls, a business suit or jeans; whether you're changing the tire on a big blue bus or a diaper in the CDC; whether you're behind a podium training students or five feet deep in mud fixing a broken water line. Each of us is crucially important to completing the wing's mission and it is imperative we understand how we and those around us fit into the operation and how we support each other.

With this in mind, I challenge each of you to do four things. First, understand how your job ties into the wing's mission. Second, as you go about your daily trials and tribulations, look around you. Every day you see the same people working across the base, but this time look closer, try to understand how their job impacts your ability to do your mission and vice-versa. Third, stop and thank them! Lastly, remember it takes all of us working together to enable our wing to successfully meet the hundreds of intertwined, interrelated and codependent mission needs across all our units.

Teamwork was the key to our successful inspection and it remains the key to our future successes.