More than your average movie night

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Adam Spears
  • 9th Space Operations Squadron

Friday is movie night at the Spears' home. It is a time when we sit together in a relaxing environment after a busy week. For the last several weeks, we have been watching submarine movies. We started out with the classic, Das Boot. Set in 1942, the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in The "Battle of the Atlantic" to destroy English shipping. With better escorts of the Destroyer Class, German U-Boats started taking heavy losses. Das Boot is the story of a U-Boat crew which examines how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers, attempted to accomplish impossible missions, while all the time attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served. Though corny at times, it has some great moments. One such moment is when the submarine was damaged, lost its ballast control and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. With limited oxygen and at the brink of death, the Chief labored to repair the engine, batteries and restored the boat's ability to resurface. The life of the crew hung on his shoulders. After the submarine was repaired and able to resurface, the Captain commented to his first officer, regarding the heroics of the Chief and his young crew, "You have to have good men. Good men, all of them." 

In 9th Space Operations Squadron, we have to have good men and women. Good men and women, all of them because: 

The Unique Challenges of our Situation 

Our squadron is unique because it functions at the operational level of our art. This requires good men and women to have experience and situational awareness at both the tactical and operational levels. The dynamic nature of space and the almost endless technical areas demand our attention almost daily just to keep up with the changes. A healthy curiosity of space and space operations makes for a good Blackhawk. Additionally, the joint and combined nature of the Joint Space Operations Center, JSpOC, requires good men and women to exercise unique leadership and management skills. This joint nature requires a study of joint doctrine and the ability to form, lead, or serve in high performing teams. Lastly, it requires keen and alert minds tounderstand tough problems, clear away the fluff, find the root cause, and develop sound processes that transform confusion into efficiency. We have to have good men and women...all of them. 

We Must Consistently Perform Under Pressure 

Performing under pressure may not be unique to 9 SOPS but I believe the nature of our business places us in a different league. We must be well versed in numerous space systems, capable of coordinating with multiple DoD and civilian organizations around the world, and determined to integrate space Command and Control, C2, into an Air Operations Center, AOC, construct--a feat never before accomplished. We have an army of TRs, most of who are very successful in their civilian careers and a handful of dedicated AGRs who must balance their efforts between the JSpOC mission and preparing the Traditional Reservists for the UTAs. Our mission demands that we consistently perform under pressure. The ability to switch gears often, multi-task, plan intricate schedules and execute on target requires a rare class of performers. The success of our squadron is built on those who consistently perform well under great pressure. We have to have good men and women...and I'm glad we do. 

Example to Those who Will Follow 

The young crew in Das Boot had some great examples. The Chief, a grizzled veteran of many voyages, served as a leader for these younger men. Even though his thoughts were on his wife, who was deadly ill, he followed the Captain's orders without question, motivated the crew, put his life on the line for others, and never complained. He was an example for others. It is exciting to watch our squadron grow larger every month. However, with more personnel comes greater responsibility. New personnel are watching our attitude, determination, and attention to detail. Set a good example! Every person in 9 SOPS is setting the standard for someone who is coming behind. This reminds me of one of my favorite poems: 

The Bridgebuilder
Will Allen Dromgoole (1860-1934) 

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide. 

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide. 

'Old man,' said a fellow pilgrim near,
'You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide --
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?'
The builder lift ed his old gray head:
'Good friend, in the path I have come,' he said,
'There followeth aft er me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way. 

Th is chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.' 

We must be build bridges for others to follow in our footsteps. We have to have good men and women who's level of professionalism, leadership, and courage is an example for those coming behind us. We have to have good men and women...all of them.