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Teamwork: the important role each of us plays in our mission

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The apostle Paul made the analogy that people are like the parts of a body, designed for different functions and assigned unique tasks. When each part of the body functions as it is designed, the whole body performs a greater task that none of its members could ever accomplish individually. Individual parts should not ex-pend effort being discontent about their assigned tasks, but rather find meaning in knowing they are doing what they are uniquely suited for.

Our wing is an amazing assembly of specialists who come together to accomplish and support space launch. Unlike other operational wings (i.e., Luke AFB with eight F-16 squadrons), no two units in our wing have the exact same mission or skill sets. There are no redundant units (although we wisely have redundancy within our units). Each must perform its designated function for us to accomplish our overall mission.

This diversity of specialties should inspire respect for what each of us brings to the mission. We have organizations (and people) to our left and right who could easily be classified as the world experts in their fields. What an opportunity we have as we rub shoulders with each other to gain insight from a world expert each time we see them perform their role!

I see this principle illustrated in the microcosm of our human space flight support team. We have pilots, navigators, space operators, a flight surgeon, a medic, a navy officer, firemen, pararescuemen, logisticians, a financial manager and an administrative expert. We are at our best when we function in our specialty and then rely on our team members' expertise as we coordinate a wide range of DoD support to human space flight.

We all have goals for self improvement and advancement, but we must keep them subordinate to the team's long-term interests. In fact, these personal goals and de-sires can inspire us to a higher level of performance, helping us make a greater impact on the team's effectiveness.

None of us should think that our specialty is somehow more important than another's. Being a good teammate means keeping our own importance in perspective. Each of us is critical to accomplishing the mission, but none of us is more important to the mission than anyone else.