“As one!” yelled Maximus Decimus Meridius, former Roman General of the Felix Legions and commander of the Armies of the North, as he led a ragtag group of slaves-turned-gladiators, into mortal combat against a better trained and better equipped legion of Rome’s finest soldiers. It’s one of my favorite scenes from my favorite movie of all time. If you’ve seen the Ridley Scott movie, you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about. The battle occurs during the ludi gladiatori (the games of gladiators) by order of the malevolent emperor Commodus and is intended to be a re-enactment of the Roman victory over Carthage. It takes place on the arena floor in the iconic Roman Colosseum. There is not a soul present among the many spectators that does not know that the Carthaginians (portrayed by Maximus and his motley group of slaves) are doomed to be massacred. But the slaves quickly come together under Maximus’ superior leadership and score a decisive and unanticipated victory over the legionaries of Scipio Africanus, bringing the entire crowd to its feet. For me, the scene artfully captures something I know to be true in everyday life. When a team of people have clarity of purpose and unify together towards achieving that purpose—they’re unstoppable, no matter what the odds. Never underestimate a team that has clarity of purpose and unity of effort!
It’s a truth that we as an Airlift Wing need to embrace now more than ever. We’re certainly no “band of ragtag gladiators,” but we are part of the smallest, busiest Air Force in our history…and the demands seem to continue to grow. Our senior Air Force leaders acknowledge and are dealing with the serious disconnect between the Air Force our nation expects and the Air Force it has today. Yet we still have a no-fail mission to do: we swiftly project airpower throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region to defend our nation, support our partners, and promote a free and stable world. Make no mistake, this is the clarity of purpose that we should come to work with every day.
That said, being a smaller, resource constrained force demands that we come together and focus our efforts. If each of us are going to remain physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially balanced...and still be truly effective at our mission in this current environment...we must not only work smarter, but we must apply our manpower, money, equipment, and time on efforts that deliver results. This is precisely why our wing commander has recently communicated the following four Lines of Effort: Develop World Class Airmen, Build a Strong Community, A Base Ready to Fight, Strengthen Partnerships. These Lines of Effort are rally cries that will focus us and guide us as we come together to weed out well-intentioned initiatives and tasks that don’t directly contribute to our aforementioned mission. The challenges we face today are far too serious, and the implications of failure far too great, to allow ourselves to be distracted by efforts or tasks that don’t deliver mission success. It will be up to all of us to commit to these Lines of Effort and hold each other accountable to them, lest we find ourselves doing things that don’t directly contribute to one or more of the four focus areas.
In the words of General Maximus, let’s “Come together! Lock shields! As one!”
Col Robert Dotson, 374th Operations Group Commander