What are our limits?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Devin Swallow
  • 315th Training Squadron
The sign on the bison range above underground quarters of Fermi National Accelerator
Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois reads, "Don't cross this field unless you can do it in 9.9 seconds... the bull can do it in 10."

Since I first read this quote, I have come to appreciate the subtleties of the many lessons contained therein. So much of our training in the military is designed to define limits. When we train on weapons we learn the proper use of the weapon, but we also learn the limit of its capabilities, what we can expect from the performance of the weapon and ammunition.

We all train on protective "chem gear" which can save our lives. We learn how it can protect us, in what environments, and for how long.

The 315 TRS is charged with training intelligence professionals on limits too. Our students learn the strengths and weaknesses, including the limits, of our intelligence
community. As analysts, we fundamentally need to understand the limits of various
organizations and collection capabilities of intelligence. It is equally important to understand the capabilities of our own weapon systems. And, of course, we need to analyze and understand the limits of those who would destroy the freedoms we enjoy in this great country.

Now look around you in your work area. What are the limits affecting you? Do you have
the right equipment and resources? Are you getting the proper training? What are the
strengths and weaknesses of those around you? Take the time to learn from the strengths. Use your strengths to help those around you to become better. Take the time to make an inventory of your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Now what do you do with that knowledge?

Find the best way to be effective with your strengths. Avoid those environments, people and substances that degrade your capabilities and wear down your values. Seek to improve yourself at every opportunity. Find sources to make your weaknesses become strengths. Today we see too many who want to use resources, manning, equipment, and personal limits as excuses or crutches. Others choose to react pessimistically to every change that comes at them. Such behaviors only serve to weaken the Air Force from within. That is simply unacceptable. We need to defend fiercely the effectiveness of the Air Force with the same intensity and tenacity we would use to exploit our enemies' weaknesses.

Now is the time, more than ever, to avoid complacency. We need to look for ways to overcome limits whether they are selfimposed or placed upon us. I am proud to see so many of you at Goodfellow constantly seeking to improve our Wing. Every day I
see you accomplishing the mission while you improve those who work around you. I see people inventing ways to maximize their effectiveness.

As the Air Force reshapes to meet the threats of the future, we should only be satisfied when we have overcome our limits to the best of our abilities, allowing us to
continue as the best Air Force this world has ever seen.