Beware the test

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- "Beware the test." 

Sage advice given by one of the general officers who spoke at the most recent squadron commander's course at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. 

The message was a warning that from time to time you may be given a task, not because you are capable of completing the assignment or because you were caught in the hallway while that topic was on the commander's mind, but simply because the commander wants to see how you work your way through the assigned task. 

Simply put, it is a test of your ability to problem solve without your knowledge that you are being tested. 

In the time since I received that warning, I have had some time to think and reflect on its implications, and I have discovered that there are many tests that we face on a daily basis and that these tests come from more than just our commanders. 

Increased operations tempo has forced us to come up with creative solutions to meet mission requirements at a faster pace than pre-Sept. 11. 

PBD 720 has taken away some manpower from most, if not all, squadrons. It has consolidated some capabilities at the group or wing level and forced us to take the creative solutions we found to deal with the Global War on Terrorism and make them work despite the cuts. 

Every day we are tested by the lives of those in our organizations. Even with legal trouble, CDC failures, short-notice deployments, medical issues, family issues and training issues, we need to find a way to get the mission done safely, by the book and on time. 

Luckily, we already have the foundation needed to answer the daily test questions we are given.

Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do. 

By applying our Core Values to our thinking and reasoning process, we can be sure that the answer we come up with will be true to our heritage, get the mission done and take care of our people. 

Integrity means doing what is right even when nobody's looking. 

There may be many options to choose from that are quick and expedient but cut corners and don't take into account the welfare of our Airmen. But if we simply do what's right for our organization, our Airmen will know it's right and they'll get the job done. 

Service Before Self is asking yourself if the potential answer to my question is better for me, or my organization? 

The mission and the organization need to come first. By taking care of our squadrons and our Airmen, we take care of the mission. But taking care of them does not mean protecting them from tough duty or assignments. It may be easy to keep the superstar around the squadron to work on pet projects instead of making him deploy, but others are counting on him to deploy, and it is up to us to see that he does. 

The nature of our mission demands Excellence In All We Do

Our people expect nothing less of themselves and certainly nothing less from their leadership. If we allow our Airmen to do their job, they will excel because it is in their nature. Present them a task, give them clear guidance, then get out of their way and watch them. They will amaze you. 

Tests come at us everyday, from many different directions. Some may be intentional; others may be simple day to day activities that require our attention. Either way, we need to be thorough in our answer. 

Not because someone is watching, even though they are, not because the answer we choose reflects on us, even though it does. The reason we need to choose an answer wisely is that our Airmen and our nation are depending on it.

 How about you, are you ready for today's test?