MAFB officer stays with missiles due to FIP

Capt. Billy Terry, 341st Operational Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile senior combat crew instructor, was given the opportunity to chase a dream he had for most of his life – working as a space systems operator. “I did want to go to space,” Terry said. “But, I've seen a radical change in leadership over the past couple months.  I see the changes in missiles as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I want to be a part of it." (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot)

Capt. Billy Terry, 341st Operational Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile senior combat crew instructor, was given the opportunity to chase a dream he had for most of his life – working as a space systems operator. “I did want to go to space,” Terry said. “But, I've seen a radical change in leadership over the past couple months. I see the changes in missiles as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I want to be a part of it." (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Capt. Billy Terry, 341st Operational Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile senior combat crew instructor, was given the opportunity to chase a dream he had for most of his life - to change career fields and work as a space systems operator.

Terry, who has been in the missile career field at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, for three and a half years, chose to stay in the nuclear enterprise because he noticed a deep leadership shift as one of the first things that was changed due to the Force Improvement Program.

"I did want to go to space," Terry said. "But, I've seen a radical change in leadership over the past couple months. I see the changes in missiles as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I want to be a part of it."

"The focus was on how to develop someone," Terry said. "I think it describes the new leadership philosophy well."

One of the major leadership changes that Terry noticed and appreciated was the way local leadership handles mishaps in the missile field.

"In the past, a small mistake such as a clinical error that had no major effect on anything else would have career-altering implications," he said.

Those effects would include missileers not getting the opportunity to become an instructor or an evaluator.

"Since then, the mistakes have been handled on a case-by-case basis," Terry said. "So if someone makes a mistake, it's an isolated incident. Leadership digs in to what actually caused it.

"That is such an amazing thing to see," Terry added. "It's what you want the military to be like."

Another reason Terry decided to stay in the nuclear career field is due to Air Force Global Strike Command giving the missile community a voice through the FIP by expressing their concerns with what they were experiencing.

"They (FIP) asked questions across the entire spectrum of what we do and gave us the opportunity to provide solutions," Terry said. "They have continued to give us opportunities to build those solutions."

Terry believes through FIP, he is given a chance to help shape a huge piece of the Air Force.

The nuclear career field has been highlighted by Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, as the number one priority in the Air Force.

Another change Terry has noticed is the way training is conducted.

"While we are still responsible for testing, the focus and the positive changes are in development," Terry said. "So, you see classroom instruction that isn't tailored to prepping someone for a test but it's there to build knowledge and expertise."

The changes in the last three to four months have changed what Terry has decided to do for the rest of his Air Force career.

"It's really hard to leave a community that's doing all of these things right now," Terry said. "My hope is that all of these changes are lasting changes."