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Training, mentoring go hand-in-hand

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Along with everything else we do, in just the past week alone, we helped launch a NASA shuttle Sunday evening and partnered with the Space and Missile Systems Center and our industry partners in preparation to send up a military communications satellite and a global positioning system satellite that will help protect and serve our war fighting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And while the Atlas launch was temporarily placed on hold because of a leak in the Centaur's upper stage oxidizer valve, that's still a pretty full week.

Another full week you may not know all that much about was recently spent at the Malabar Training Annex, where more than 100 of our Airmen, leaders and evaluators took part in Operation Ocean Breeze, a field exercise designed to exercise and evaluate the 45th Space Wing's ability to process specific equipment and personnel for deployment.

And that was just for starters.

Because just as importantly, we exercised and evaluated our Airmen's ability to survive and operate in a deployed environment.

Trust me, this was not your basic check-the-block training. Hardly.

Under the watchful eyes of several Exercise Evaluation Team members and leaders from every unit in our Wing, our Airmen were trained and drilled on a wide variety of necessary - and life-sustaining skills - such as deployment procedures, weapons training, command and control, explosive ordnance recognition, the ability to survive in a chemical environment, expeditionary combat skills, and self-aid buddy care.

I have a really hard time putting my arms around anything much more vital than that.
And if you don't believe me, ask any of the several hundred 45th Space Wing Airmen who have returned from their wartime deployments.

Ask them if any of them wish they had had less training. Ask them if they wish they had been less prepared ... less confident.

That's why I continue to insist leaders at every level do everything in their power to empower their Airmen with the skills and confidence they need should they someday find themselves in a forward-deployed area. And in today's world, we all know that's a pretty distinct possibility.

Don't forget that this month's Year of Leadership theme is mentoring.

Share your experiences with them. Share your successes and failures; both are great learning tools for our younger Airmen. Make them vitally aware of the importance of training.

Emphasize the life they could save could be their own. Thanks again for everything you do.