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Stay focused, keep looking, moving forward

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- We all know what a busy place Barksdale is; we even pay tribute to it by naming our exercises things like "Busy Mudbug."

I like being busy because I don't deal well with boredom. The trick to dealing with a busy lifestyle is to keep focused on what is important. That is easy for us because we have the TWO vector which provides clear direction on what is important to the Barksdale team and the first commandment of the TWO vector is "Total Focus!"

Lately I have been focusing on the second commandment of the vector, "Work together ... take care of each other to build trust and an unbeatable team." Teamwork doesn't just happen. It requires several key ingredients in the right quantities, in the same place, at the same time. Those ingredients are talent, direction, and most importantly but often overlooked, a cohesion or synergy. This last part is best defined as "spontaneous acts of cooperation" that pull the team together at just the right moment to make the seemingly impossible happen.

We have the talent. It is everywhere I look. From the medic who will go beyond all reasonable expectations to make sure the pilot is healthy and fit to fly, to the maintainer who works impossible hours enduring nature's elements to keep the mission going, to security forces and augmentees who watch over them all - the talent never ceases to amaze me.

Direction is not hard to find either. We all know and understand the importance of our mission. The leadership I have witnessed in all of our units, at every level, makes me sure that Barksdale is in good hands.

I believe the cohesion is here too, but recently we have slipped a little and it worries me. We all know we are part of an important team. We all know it is a winning team! Maybe we have become too busy. Maybe we have lost our focus. Whatever the reason, some of the cohesion is missing. Some of the spontaneous acts of cooperation have failed to materialize at the critical moment, and a few of our comrades have gotten into trouble or failed to meet the mission. We have been lucky in the fact that so far the majority of these incidents have not been unrecoverable, but we have to get our focus back.

The cohesion grows from taking responsibility for ourselves, for each other, and for making things better around us. Being responsible for ourselves means making decisions on how we live our lives and then sticking to those decisions. Decisions like having a plan before we go out for the evening that includes whether or not we plan to drink alcohol; and if we do, how much.

Being responsible for each other means looking out for our teammates if they drink too much or have made a poor decision like planning to leave on a long drive after working a full duty day.

Being responsible for making things better around us means being aware of situations like those above and taking action to avoid or prevent them. You can do this whether you are a supervisor or a friend.

Notice I didn't use the word buddy. Buddies won't take the responsibility for stopping you before you do that really stupid thing like drinking 21 shots in 21 minutes. A friend will trust you to understand that they care about you when they tell you that driving to Alaska and back on a three-day weekend may not be against the rules, but it is a really dumb idea.

We have an unbeatable team at Barksdale. I am very proud to be a part of it and know I have been blessed to be allowed to serve here.

In the coming months, we have some big challenges for the team like the nuclear surety inspection and our next Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotations. Yes, we are an expeditionary Air Force; and even though we are preparing for the NSI, our AEF rotation continues. If you didn't know that, you just haven't been paying enough attention these last few years.

We are preparing once again to deploy a large part of our population in order to meet our mission of providing ready forces to support war-fighting commanders. During all this commotion, the members of the home team, family, friends and loved ones are all quietly doing their part to make sure life goes on and the mission continues to happen here at Barksdale.

Well, maybe the support team needs a little support as well. With that thought in mind, our Airmen and Family Readiness Center and the Chapel staff are planning to do what they do best...take care of our own.

Tech. Sgt. Steve Phillips is our Readiness NCO who works out of the AFRC. He provides support in the form of family readiness briefings and offers services such as video-teleconferencing between deployed families. He also has camcorders and digital cameras available for checkout.

Other base agencies are working very hard to provide services and support as well. Did you know that the base bowling center offers a Deployed Family Bowling Special where adults can bowl for $1 per game and children bowl free anytime during open bowling.

The Child Development Center offers the Give Parents A Break program sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society. Two Saturdays a month this program allows family members free child care. See your unit first sergeant to get the details. Also offered is a Stay Connected backpack with an assortment of items in it to keep the deployed member and family connected. You can get these by contacting Vic Santana, director of youth programs, who is located in Bldg. 3722 across from the Youth Center.

Finally, the Red River Dining Facility now allows the families of deployed Airmen E-4 and below to eat during any meal. The families of deployed Airmen E-5 and above are allowed to eat during the dinner meals only. This is designed to provide an opportunity for the family members to enjoy a wholesome lowcost meal during the busy days caused by the extra workload of your spouse's deployment.

I am really proud of all of these efforts to reduce the strain on our Airmen as we meet the challenges of being an Expeditionary Air Force.

Let's work to stay focused on the vector and taking care of each other. As a team, I know that we will continue to be successful.