In my last post, here, I said:
– Integrates all the disciplines and specialty groups into a team effort
– Helps form structured processes
- State the problem
- Investigate alternatives
- Model the system
- Launch the system
- Assess performance
This is no accident.
We were a tribe in the sense of Jack Donovan’s recent books, The Way of Men and Becoming a Barbarian. We were a family apart from the greater society. We missileers included various communities such as ICBM combat crews, military acquisition experts, suppliers, major defense contractors, civil servants, & etc., all linked by mission. We had a common culture and dialect and recognized leaders. We even had many processes and methods different than the airplane Air Force.
We had strict rules of morality, integrity, truth, and honesty. We expected ourselves and our fellow tribe members to set aside ego and lose ourself in the mission. To succeed, we had to win, even loot and plunder other weapon systems’ funds if we could. We had to take every advantage.
Like barbarians, outsiders might actually disparage us or our mission, but we wore the head of the wolf proudly.
In subsequent years, starting after the merger of Systems Command and Logistics Command and the dissolution of SAC in 1992, there was a push to have civil servants get more career broadening throughout their careers and also to push for more contractor competition. ICBM processes have been more and more brought under the umbrella of the USAF processes. Although still dedicated and close-knit, the days of a team so close knit that they were sometimes called incestuous, appear gone. But they leave a legacy of the weapon system sustainment management model they created.
Despite the lack of data flowing from the solid rockets or liquid rocket or other dormant systems, we were charged with ensuring they were capable. That is, they must be available, reliable, accurate, hard against attack, safe, and sure.
Any suspected degradation must be spotted with years of lead time in order to ensure fixes were in place before the mission was compromised. And any fix must work seamlessly within an incredibly complex missile, missile silo, launch command complex, logistics system, repair depots, & etc. One small change could have unforeseen consequences. The original engineering documentation could be missing. All this over a period of time where priorities and funding for ICBMs was diminishing, unique contractors were closing shop, and some parts and components were no longer available.