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Lesson #5: One Team, One Fight, When Convenient

The overall concept of “One team, one fight,” is a good one, in my opinion.  In theory, if an entire organization was able to consistently operate using that philosophy as the backbone of their functioning, they would be unstoppable.  Sadly, it has been my experience that no organization is able to fully implement it as a strategy, which is why I had to add “When convenient” to the end. It is sad really.  Every time we ever heard “One team, one fight,” uttered by military leadership, my unit knew that at least one person in our unit was in trouble, and rather than just punishing that individual for their mistake, the entire unit was about to suffer.

It was most common with instances of members getting in trouble for driving while intoxicated or getting caught in some kind of drug-related incident.  There were even occasions when it was just some stupid accident or mistakes like backing a car up into something or falling asleep on duty. While I and all the others understand the general punishment, that was the only time the phrase “One team, one fight” ever applied.  Anytime anyone in our unit did anything good or worthy of commendation, the “One team, one fight” philosophy was absent. All of a sudden, good recognition does not apply to everyone. It wasn’t the unit, it was individual greatness.

This has a tendency to find its way into civilian life as well.  How often has your department or team done something extraordinary and it resulted in nothing more than a pat on the back, or only one person getting the prize?  Compare these events to the amount of times that same someone, or others, made a mistake, and everyone had to pay for it in some way, shape or form. It has been my experience that no matter what the organization, this has always ended up being the case.

  I never realized it until I was in the military but this was a recurring situation that we found ourselves in, especially considering the fact that we were stationed in the middle of Europe.  My first run in with “One team, one fight” happened before I was even officially manning a post for the squadron. A member was caught doing spice and as a result, the entire unit was ordered to appear at the training building on a day off for a briefing, guards were posted at all the doorways, ID’s were collected, and more than 500 men and women were required to line up and pee in a cup.  It took more than half the day and by the end, there was no respect left for the new leadership.

Not long after that incident, another took place.  An off duty member of our unit was caught attempting to drive after consuming alcohol by the local police.  The entire unit was placed on what is called, “6 ring stand-by.” You are not allowed to consume alcohol, you have to be within 30 minutes of the armory, and failure to answer your phone at any time during the “6-ring stand-by” results in some form of disciplinary action.

Not once was the unit rewarded for the successful action or achievements of any other during my entire time on active duty service.  I have also not yet heard of a single instance where the entire unit was awarded for the actions or achievements of anyone. That individual is awarded a medal or commendation of some kind and is given it while everyone else in the unit has to stand and watch.  This also typically takes place on an off day. Truly, “One team, one fight, when convenient.”

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