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POLICY LETTER 1-96

From: Commanding Officer

Subj: COMMAND GUIDANCE

1. Purpose. To publish general guidance from the Commanding Officer.

2. Application. This guidance applies to all Aviation Maintenance Squadron 1 personnel. The Administrative Section maintains copies of this letter and issues a copy to each staff member.

3. Guidance. When we enlisted or were commissioned, we wondered what the Corps would do with us. Now, we need to become the kind of Marine, who, when we leave, makes the Corps wonder what it'll do without us. The following guidance is designed to help us become that kind of Marine, facilitate the accomplishment of our mission, and establish guideposts for setting standards of expectation and performance throughout the Squadron.

a. Make things happen. The key to gaining the momentum (and therefore the advantage) on any mission or task is to seize the initiative. When Patton said that the idea is not for our warriors to die for their country but to make the other guy die for his, he was saying that we have to take the initiative. We can't simply go into battle to fight, we have to go into battle to inflict crippling damage upon the enemy. We don't simply come in to work on aircraft, we come in to fix aircraft so they can fly missions -- there's a certain outcome in mind. We don't come in to attend class, we come in to learn our trade. We don't come in to give a class, we come in to mold Marines and to train the next generation of experts and warriors. Those who take initiative don't wait for others to get on board, they lead those who wait. Marines have a reputation for adapting to changing conditions, improvising to turn challenges into opportunities, and succeeding when lesser people fail under the burden of sweat and pain. Our consistency, persistency, and focus make us dependable -- in that way, our dependability is closely linked to our decisiveness. We need dependable Marines here who'll take the initiative and make things happen. Take pride in being a part of the solution to our challenges and not adding to those challenges by complaining or whimpering. Set goals and become known for your ideas and your ability to act on them -- add value to the Squadron and to the Marine Corps.

b. Demonstrate courage and endurance. Every Marine must wonder at one time or another how he'll behave under fire in combat. We don't know for sure until we get there, but the best training ground for developing that courage is everyday life. Unless you can demonstrate physical courage against everyday challenges and moral courage against the temptations of expedient or self-serving options, there's no reason to expect you'll behave any differently when your life's in danger. Personal or political expediency is not a legitimate reason for failing to meet our commitment to our Marines and our mission, and for that reason, we have a fundamental need to remain true to our core values: Honor, Courage, and Commitment. We also need to demonstrate our ability to maintain our alertness, solve problems, and sustain our sense of humor when others are losing theirs when we're tired or irritated. The most effective method I know for doing that is to remain engaged with our mission and our Marines. Many great leaders confess to having been figuratively "carried" to the objective by their sense of mission accomplishment and on the shoulders of their Marines simply because they remained enthusiastically engaged.

c. Win your successes honestly. You can be the hardest worker in the Squadron, but if you're a liar and a cheat it all goes to waste because everyone, including you, believes that your successes are ill-gotten. A Marine's integrity is critical to his professional development, the survival of his unit, and the success of the Corps. Never doubt that you didn't simply join the Marine Corps, you were selected for enlistment or a commission in the world's premier fighting force. We don't need to cheat or steal. We work harder with the tools we have to earn our successes and be worthy of our stripes and decorations. Each of you has the opportunity to see your rank insignia multiply and one day become a Squadron Maintenance Chief, Sergeant Major, or Commanding Officer. We want to see you get there, but we want you to get there honestly so you can hold your head up when you do. Your most valuable possession is your honor.

d. Get your mind right. Leaders are empowered by Commanding Officers to make decisions and lead Marines within a certain framework. In AMS-1, we lead through an application of the leadership traits in accordance with Marine Corps policy and based on sound moral and ethical footing. We take hold of leadership ideas, rules of thumb, and principles, and tailor them to our needs in order to cultivate thought processes that make sound judgment and decision-making a natural outcome. Additionally, we know our Marines and our business. You've heard it said that "it's all a matter of perspective" or that "it depends on how you look at it." Well, unless we have a basis in knowledge of leadership, values, mission, and Marines, we don't have much of a chance to forge credible points of view or philosophies. The key to becoming a great decision-maker is to establish a solid thought process, based on knowledge, upon which to condition your decision-making skills -- you have to get your mind right first.

e. "That's the way it's always been done." I take every opportunity to exploit existing knowledge and experience to insure I don't overlook winning solutions. Nonetheless, "that's the way it's always been done" is not a reason to do anything, and if a practice or procedure can't stand on its own merit, we need to make it go away and replace it with one that does. As we consider our heritage and take pride in our history, let's not be coaxed into complacency by thinking that we have nothing new to learn and that there's no more room for innovation. In the same vein, let's never rest on our reputation.

f. We are a Band of Brothers. For the past twenty years or so, I've carried a wallet card that contains a code for The Band of Brothers. As I pass it on to you, keep in mind that references to "brothers" and "brotherhood" are gender-neutral and refer to our sense of camaraderie.

(1) All Marines are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, but must be willing to exercise these qualities in order to receive them.

(2) A Marine should never lie, cheat, or steal from a fellow Marine or fail to come to his aid in time of need.

(3) All Marines should contribute 100% of their abilities to the unit's mission. Anything less will pass the buck to someone else.

(4) A Marine unit is a disciplined family in which each Marine respects the other as a brother.

(5) It is essential that all issues and problems within a unit that might lessen its combat effectiveness be addressed and resolved.

(6) All Marines share a common goal of mutual understanding regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background.

(7) Being the best requires hard work and team work. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.

(8) Every Marine deserves job satisfaction, equal consideration, and recognition for his accomplishments.

(9) Knowing your brother Marine will allow you to understand his point of view.

(10) A problem that affects a brother Marine should be brought to the attention of someone who can help him.

(11) A Brotherhood depends on all Marines feeling that they belong and are accepted as brothers.

g. Maintain a team concept and positive mental attitude. We Marines are, by nature, competitive animals. However, we are, by tradition, members of a team with esprit de corps. That means that there's no room here for one-upmanship or back-biting -- we'll all enjoy our successes more if we achieve our goals together. I spoke earlier about innovation -- I want you all to be thinkers and innovators and will tell you now that I rely heavily on the recommendations of my officers, SNCOs, and NCOs. However, that counsel is useless unless each of these key advisors deals with the issues conscientiously, honestly, and with a positive mental attitude (PMA) so they can give me their best heartfelt inputs. At the other end of it, once I make a decision, whether I've taken one Marine's input or another's or neither, the decision then belongs to all of us. There's little room for pride of authorship; save that pride for pride of mission accomplishment and pride of teamwork. This quote sits in a frame in my office: "Two stonecutters were asked what they were doing. The first said, "I'm cutting this stone into blocks." The second replied, "I'm on a team that's building a cathedral."" I want us to build a cathedral -- a huge one with well-placed blocks and cornerstones -- so let's get to it. Semper fi.

R. A. DOSS