An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Lay a solid foundation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Olson
  • 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
“From the ground up” or “starting from scratch” are common phrases deployers hear frequently, and the concept seems simple. Yet, when applying that to an entire installation with limited resources, the task can seem overwhelming. It’s tough to prioritize what to complete first because everything is important.

I’m an emergency manager and my mission statement is: “Save lives; minimize the loss or degradation of resources; and continue, sustain, and restore the USAF's capacity to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.” In layman terms, plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Recently I was faced with a situation I’ve never dealt with before. There was no emergency management program, and my flight was tasked to build one from scratch. I know my situation is no different than most of the flights here; we are all tasked with laying the foundation and building up. From my experiences so far, everyone is coming together to accomplish the mission, build this base up, and leave it better then we found it.

Usually when we deploy, programs, plans, and processes are already established. It’s easy to take these things for granted because they’re always there. One of the only benefits of not having these things in place is you have the chance to be an architect and design them how you want. You can rely on past experience, good or bad, and know what works and what doesn’t work. You also have the opportunity of working from a clean slate. Too many times programs have been turned over in shambles leaving the new person the task of fixing what’s broken. Embrace the fact that isn’t the case here, and potentially it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s easy to try and push a product just for the sake of having something established, but if it’s not a good product are you really accomplishing anything? It might take a little bit longer, but take the time to develop things that are going to have a lasting impression and make a positive difference.

I know I toy with the notion that I may end up deploying back here, and I want my work to live on. If I do ever return, I can have pride and say, “yeah, I planned this or built that.”