Help others make the right choices

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Peter Bonetti
  • 10th Missile Squadron commander
We recently paused to reflect on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. At the National Day of Service and Remembrance ceremony in our chapel, Colonel Fortney reminded us that it wasn't just the pain and loss of 9/11 that caused us to pause, it was also the recognition of self-sacrifice from hundreds of thousands of men and women in service to their country. I believe it is this self-sacrifice and commitment that sets us apart. We - civilians, contractors and military members alike - have obligated ourselves to uphold the positive ideals of our society and take part in the defense of this nation. Every person's contribution makes a difference. 

When asked to describe the job of the Vice President, Dick Cheney said, "You have things that you have to make happen. And you don't have time for the emotional reaction that might otherwise occur if somebody was just sitting there watching these events unfold and had no responsibilities." I would describe every job or position on this base in the exact same terms. We do not have the luxury to watch other people make bad decisions and not act while consequences unfold. As part of our commitment, we've got to ensure we are continually holding both ourselves and those around us to the highest standards of conduct, in every facet of daily life. It is through our actions and decisions that we define our contributions to the mission. 

You hear it every day. It is critical that our base defenders continue to protect the people, equipment and facilities that support fielded nuclear forces while our mission support group maintains and upgrades infrastructure over half a century old. It is vital that maintenance teams continue to operate at the pinnacle of perfection on every nuclear component and operations crews execute presidential orders in the precise manner as they are trained. It is imperative that our medical group maintains and promotes the wellness of the force and that all personnel, regardless of rank or position, make positive contributions to the mission. All of this is true and we must fight complacency to meet these high expectations. We do not have the extravagance to be lax or fail in any mission area and are committed to upholding the nuclear enterprise's standard of perfection. The people of our nation have entrusted us with the operation, maintenance and security of the most powerful weapons on the face of the earth. With every decision we make, we contribute to the legacy of our nation's alert nuclear arsenal and ensure it remains ready to defend this nation against attack. There is no room for mistakes. 

There are always a few situations every base or institution is challenged to overcome. Sometimes it's because of resources or decisions outside our span of control. Other times it's because people make poor choices. I remain confident, however, that the overwhelming majority of our population is dedicated to the continued success of this mission. No one wakes up in the morning intent on failing. Each of you owes it to yourselves not to tolerate substandard performance and poor decisions. You work too hard to see moments of weakness crush and destroy the credibility of the nuclear deterrent force so I ask each of you to act swiftly during those fleeting moments and help those around you. Confront problems, then correct or isolate them to prevent damage. It is in your power to help those who are about to make bad decisions and correct problems you encounter. Remember, everyone's contribution makes a difference. Let's continue to work together and ensure we make the right choices.