Focus, dedication, excellence

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Last month, the 566th Intelligence Squadron had the "pleasure" of an Inspector General inspection, just as the 460th Space Wing did last spring. And, just as with the 460th, the IG team remarked on the quality of our Airmen in the 566th and the excellence of our work.

In inspecting our key programs, they didn't just interview our squadron leaders and program managers. They went throughout the squadron to check how well we followed the Privacy Act, how well we kept training records, and how well we understood the legal guidelines governing intelligence activities and the Fourth Amendment -- which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In each case, every one of us, from Airman to lieutenant colonel, did what we were expected to do; in short, we embodied the Air Force's core values, especially "excellence in all we do," and I'm proud to lead and be a part of a squadron that set such a high standard.

This didn't happen by accident, though, for us or for anyone else. While so many things the IG inspects seem to be administrative trivia, the fact is these are all programs that are important to the big Air Force, the squadron and every one of us in the squadron.

The hard part comes in keeping focused on executing these programs while doing our part in fighting the war, day-in and day-out. It means spending extra minutes or hours at the end of each day to work on a memo for record or complete yet another course on ADLS, or Advanced Distributed Learning Service -- and hoping it doesn't crash this time like it did yesterday. It certainly means coming in on weekends or days off to complete the continuity book, and I know many, if not all of us, have asked, "For what purpose?"

What purpose, indeed. First off, these administrative trivia tasks are things our leaders and predecessors have learned are integral to the Air Force doing its job. They are all "best practices" developed from decades of experience, priorities we've recently realized are important from fighting this war, or duties mandated by law.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, these small items add up to the big results that make us so effective and successful in air, space and cyberspace. Each one of us has our job, or several, to do, and when each of us excels at each task, the Air Force benefits overall.

Retired Gen. George Patton summed it up well when he spoke to some of his men as they were preparing to enter France during World War II. In a speech attributed to him, he told the following story:

"One of the bravest men I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what he was doing up there. He answered, 'Fixing the wire, sir.' I asked, 'Isn't that a little unhealthy right now?' He answered, 'Yes, sir, but the wire has to be fixed.' I asked, 'Don't those planes strafing the road bother you?' and he answered, 'No, sir, but you sure as hell do!'

"There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds ... All the links in the chain pulled together, and the chain became unbreakable."

It's no different for each of us, and the United States Air Force is the greatest air, space, and cyberspace power today -- because we embody "excellence in all we do."