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Linking job contributions to mission

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As Airmen, we hear time and time again, "We can't let the mission fail." "The mission is the most important objective." "Mission accomplishment is imperative," and so forth. And I believe all references to mission success are categorically true -- as mission failure is not an option. However, what is the mission?

Many years ago, I entered the Air Force as an open electronics recruit. After basic and technical training, I was assigned to Chievres Army Installation, Belgium, as a ground navigational technician.

Upon my arrival at Chievres, my supervisor created a new Air Force 623 training record, briefed me on my responsibilities and I began my upgrade training. The subsequent training encompassed various tasks to include operating test equipment, conducting alignments, performing ground checks, documenting maintenance actions and a whole host of other items. All these duties and tasks were part of my job.

Looking back at that time, I had no idea how my work or job was affecting the mission, or how important it was to the mission. I merely reported to duty each day to perform my job, which was to keep the navigational systems operating around the clock.

I was completely oblivious to how I was contributing to the mission because no one sat me down to explain the link. In fact, I wasn't really sure what the mission was. Therefore, I simply carried out the duties and tasks without a complete understanding. In essence, I was just doing a job.

Currently, Airmen report to duty every day to perform their jobs at various locations around the world. They prepare food, turn wrenches, strap on weapons, process paperwork, control satellites and much, much more. No doubt, their jobs are demanding and each is critically important, as freedom is at stake.

However, my fear is that many of them are in the same situation that I found myself in -- just doing a job -- because of a lack of understanding about how their work, or job, contributes to accomplishing the mission.

To remedy this, I suggest the following: linking job contributions to the mission leads to understanding; understanding leads to commitment; commitment leads to high performance; and high performance leads to mission accomplishment.

Guaranteed, each Airman and the jobs they perform are vital to mission accomplishment. However, don't take for granted that your Airmen know the mission and how they impact it. Instead, take the time to convey it to them.

Thus, my challenge to the leaders in this wing and across the Air Force is to provide your Airmen the site picture to help them understand the importance of the job they do every day. You can do this by linking their job contributions to the mission.