Back during my time in the military, one summer I volunteered to be a tour guide for several U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who were visiting Whiteman AFB, Missouri.
It was hard to keep their attention because at that time Whiteman had no planes. It was a nuclear missile base. I took groups of five or so cadets on the tour, and then would drop them off and take five more. During the tour I asked each group, “What are you going to do after your graduate?” Almost 100% of the group replied with “I’m going to fly jets.”
Finally toward the end of the day, I had grown tired of their answers, so I set the record straight by saying, “There are not enough ^%&$ jets in the military for everyone to fly one – some of you will be a supply officer or a missile launch officer – so get used to it.”
It was like I told them their dog had just died.
Being a missile launch officer is not as “sexy” as flying jets. It’s not as “sexy” as flying a C-130 cargo plane, either.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is searching for the root causes of recent Air Force missteps but also for ways to make the nuclear warrior’s job more attractive at a time when the military has turned its attention away from such weapons.” He has ordered a review of the nuclear forces.
Missile folks are jealous over the publicity and status that pilots have. The commanders of these folks are jealous, too.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., supports the review of nuclear forces proposed by Hagel. Tester is correct in doing that. Tester was visiting the Cascade County Commissioners last week. His visit was reported by the Great Falls Tribune.
Cascade County Commissioner Joe Briggs showed his ignorance about the military when, according to the Tribune, he raised a concern that Col. Robert Stanley, commander of the 341st Missile Wing, would be blamed for the cheating incident. Briggs stated, “I would really be disappointed if the Air Force tried to make him a scapegoat.” Tester responded with, “I think he’s a very good man.”
Stanley has been nominated for the rank of brigadier general.
Back on January 17 (2014), I wrote:
The Air Force needs to completely clean house in the 341st Operations Group at Malmstrom and its three missile squadrons (10th, 12th, and 490th) and bring in new leaders – I’m talking about the O-4 (Majors) up to and including the O-6 (Colonels) who have apparently failed to properly lead those they command and supervise.
On January 10 I also wrote about Stanley’s possible promotion:
Under his leadership Malmstrom has failed some inspections, and he even fired another colonel at the base. I highly doubt the airmen who made the mistake that led to the failure of the inspections will be fortunate enough to get promoted this quickly, if ever. Why should their commander?
In the military, they don’t use the word “scapegoat” too often. I am sure that Col. Stanley is a stand-up fellow and a nice man. But he and his team must be held accountable for the actions of those they command and supervise.
It’s called leadership.
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