Discipline--the foundation for mission accomplishment

  • Published
  • By Col. Joe Turk
  • 721st Mission Support Group commander
Discipline is a fundamental attribute of the military and is a critical requirement for us to accomplish our mission. Gen. George Patton summed up the importance of discipline for the military when he said, "If you can't get them to salute when they should salute and wear the clothes you tell them to wear, how are you going to get them to die for their country?"

From Patton's perspective, if a leader cannot instill in his people the need to do the little things correctly, the unit would not be able to accomplish the critical tasks required to execute its mission that could potentially require them to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Wing leadership recognized the importance of discipline within the 21st Space Wing when we established "Innovation and Discipline" as one of our four priorities and stressed the need to execute critical tasks "precisely, predictably and correctly." Like Patton, we knew the foundation for discipline began with executing fundamental tasks without fail, but we felt it was also important to highlight the need to accomplish critical tasks with discipline. To identify those tasks the wing felt are absolutely critical to execute our complex mission, we embarked on our "What Not to Do" effort where we methodically evaluated every task and requirement levied upon us by the Department of Defense, the Air Force, higher headquarters, other authorities and our own instructions. We assessed the criticality and complexity of each of these tasks to determine those tasks that were critical to accomplishing our mission of "operating and sustaining global missile warning and space control capabilities and installations to dominate the high ground for America and its allies." This detailed analysis identified our critical, must-do tasks, while also identifying those less critical requirements where we could comfortably assume some risk without impacting our mission. Our analysis allowed us to prioritize mission tasks and determine where the wing should focus limited time and resources.

After determining our critical tasks, we needed to ensure we were executing these tasks precisely and correctly to produce predictable outcomes that would lead to mission success. We established regular unit compliance and focus days to consistently review our critical tasks and evaluate our performance against established instructions and procedures. These days ensured we dedicated ourselves to instilling discipline in our wing culture by practicing our critical tasks to hone our skills during exercises and focused scenarios and evaluating our processes against required checklists. This afforded us the opportunity to assess our progress and make adjustments to our processes and procedures. As our preparation for the Consolidated Unit Inspection intensifies, we should clearly see the results of our efforts. We should have no discrepancies in the performance of those tasks we identified as critical to our mission since we have focused our efforts and have instilled discipline in our processes.

Sometime this spring, the Air Force Space Command Inspector General will conduct a CUI for the wing to determine how well we are complying with instructions and procedures. Due to our efforts, we will not only demonstrate to the IG that we are compliant with required instructions, we will validate to ourselves that we have used leadership and innovation to instill discipline in our critical tasks and strategically executed our vital mission.