Tactical Excellence

  • Published
  • By Maj. Thomas E. Segars, Jr.
  • 55th Security Forces Squadron commander
"Tactical Excellence" is quickly becoming the celebrated flagship phrase for Air Force security forces, a mantra that encompasses everything from training to spiritual wellness to air mindedness.

Although the phrase carries several connotations, it can be used with the largest of problems or simplest of tasks, but the best part is it conceptually can be used by every Airman, Soldier, Sailor, Marine or civilian. You see, Tactical Excellence is a mindset, and it builds upon various foundations that we as professional military members already experience in our lives and in our jobs. But it needs a closer look in order to truly understand the benefits.

Take, for instance, "Train to a higher standard," the first of two Tactical Excellence tenets. Each of our career fields require a certain amount of basic instruction followed each year by ancillary training requirements aimed at building on, and solidifying, that foundational experience. But in a time where the military is becoming selective in who can and will continue to serve, it is no longer enough to simply attend or complete the training. In this super-competitive world it is becoming increasingly necessary to strive for excellence at each of those training activities and venues by learning everything possible about the subject at hand.

But it doesn't stop there. From the leadership standpoint, it is crucial to build and sustain training programs forged in realistic environments with associated equipment to do the job. In essence, this resurrects the old adage of, "train like we fight so we can fight like we train" but modernizes it in an effort to capture the transformational aspects of the Air Force.

The 55th SFS shoot house best illustrates this point. Acquired in 2009, the unflattering building once scheduled for demolition was transformed into a versatile workplace where some 600 defenders a year transit through in dynamic style shooting simulation rounds at would-be assailants, all for the sake of training in a realistic environment.

The second tenet of Tactical Excellence is "Air Mindedness." Regardless of Air Force specialty, air mindedness divorces old school thinking of compartmentalized specialties and aligns how we each integrate and apply our respective specialties into the overarching mission of the Air Force as seen and experienced through the lens of doctrine, training and experience. For instance, in order to reap the benefits from integrated defense, defenders need to understand how an air base operates and how its personnel conduct air, space and cyber-space missions.

The only way to grasp this viewpoint is to shift the perspective from providing compliance-based security to effects-based security, and a key component of this shift is to understand how operators, maintainers and other specialties think and operate. It asks questions such as, "How can we facilitate air and ground operations while providing impenetrable security?" At Offutt, security forces leaders cultivate this air mindedness by educating and training young defenders on capabilities of various aircraft, as well as touring specially configured aircraft where defenders harbor a no-fail mission. This unique approach produces buy-in and distinctly correlates defenders with the mission with which they are closely tied.

Much can be said about Tactical Excellence and its various meanings, but the priority it places on training to higher standards and the criticality of air mindedness are particularly noteworthy. The foregoing exploration merely scratches the surface of its true meaning, but it has clear applications across all services and all functions and can be useful in a myriad of situations, problems or challenges. Defenders strive for tactical excellence every day - do you?