Excellence ... it’s what we do

  • Published
  • By By Maj. Kenneth Bottari
  • 509th Munitions Squadron
We all know the Air Force core values ... "Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in All We Do." 

I've noticed over the years that people seem to focus on or only hear about the first two, and we forget about excellence. Why is that? Is it because excellence is expected? Or has it become second nature? 

First you must ask what excellence means to you. Is it to be superior? Or is it to surpass others in achievement. 

To me it is doing things right the first time--preventing rework, yet improving techniques and processes when possible. 

In the munitions business, it is important to do things right the first time ... due to the nature of the work, there may not be a second chance. 

Every day I witness the professionalism displayed by the members of the munitions squadron. I hate to sound biased, but it is my frame of reference. 

I get to witness "excellence" first hand every day and I'm proud to come to work each morning and lead the squadron through the next challenge.
Earlier this year, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne had "Excellence in All We Do" as the topic in his "Letter to Airmen" in January. He challenged us to "reflect on our achievements over the past year and set new goals for what we want to accomplish as an individual and an Air Force." 

Secretary Wynne went on to discuss how Air Force Smart Operations should be used as a mechanism to implement those goals. But AFSO21 is not just process improvements and organizational restructuring. 

Secretary Wynne said these changes "must lead to greater combat capability." 

We gauge our combat capability and potential lethality by measuring our achievements during our deployments, exercises, and inspections. 

So let's recap some of the achievements we've witnessed here at Whiteman lately. Since I arrived last June, we've had many successes. 

First we returned from a successful deployment supporting the Pacific Air Forces' bomber forward presence mission. 

Soon after my arrival, the Air Combat Command staff came to give us a look during our Nuclear Surety Staff Assistance Visit. 

That visit showed us the areas we were already doing well and identified a few focus areas for improvement. 

We focused on those improvement areas to achieve outstanding results during December's Joint Nuclear Surety Inspection. 

I say outstanding results because I've experienced 11 NSIs during my career and that was the best I've seen. 

From the two inspection reports from ACC and Defense Threat Reduction Agency, we achieved the highest possible rating overall, as well as in many other areas. 

There were many other "best seen" comments in those reports, too numerous to mention here--that's excellence. And how did we do it? 

We did it by focusing on the requirements and improving and perfecting our techniques through each of our nuclear surety evaluation exercises. 

Were we perfect? No, but we focused on the necessary improvement areas wherever possible. 

The NSI was followed by a successful RED FLAG deployments and just for good measure, the Russians visited. Not once or twice, but three times to conduct a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Inspection. Now we are embarking on our first ever conventional operational readiness inspection for Team Whiteman. 

But how are we preparing? 

The same way ... through methodical, focused operational readiness exercises. 

Although we like to treat these exercises like a real combat deployment, it is not exactly the same thing. The inspector general evaluates us on some extreme scenarios that help "level the playing field" when they evaluate all units.
So we'll continue to critique ourselves honestly and target those opportunities for improvement like we did prior to other inspections. 

Now the pre-planning is completed and it's time to execute. We've completed one CORE and our exercise evaluation team identified the necessary improvement areas we need to focus on. 

Just like before, we'll continue improving through the next two exercises. Then when the IG arrives for the inspection, we'll demonstrate our excellence again ... it's what we do.