Friday, May 2, 2014

Commander's Intent - Lt. Col. Chris Raible Lives On

Lt. Col. Chris Raible
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On December 9, 2011, Lt. Col. Chris “Otis” Raible, Commanding Officer of Marine Attack Squadron VMA 211 (the Avengers), issued his commander’s guidance for squadron attack pilots. Lt. Col. Raible was killed in action September 14, 2012, but his leadership legacy lives on to influence the world he left behind. Multiple fire leaders shared this intent statement with us, now we share it with our audience. May his influence provide wildland fire leaders with an example of clear leader's intent.

From: Commanding Officer, Marine Attack Squadron 211

To: Squadron Attack Pilots


1. Professional hunger. 

My goal is to identify those Officers who want to be professional attack pilots and dedicate the resources required to build them into the flight leaders and instructors that are required for the long-term health of our community. This is not a socialist organization. We will not all be equal in terms of quals and flight hours. Some will advance faster than others, and because this is not a union, your rate of advancement will have nothing to do with seniority. Your rate of advancement will instead be determined by your hunger, professionalism, work ethic, and performance.

If flying jets and supporting Marines is your passion and your profession, you are in the right squadron.

If these things are viewed simply as your job, please understand that I must invest for the future in others. Your time in a gun squadron might be limited, so it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities that are presented.

2. Professional focus. 

Our approach to aviation is based upon the absolute requirement to be “brilliant in the basics.”

Over the last few years Marine TACAIR has not punted the tactical nearly so often as the admin. Sound understanding of NATOPS, aircraft systems, and SOPs is therefore every bit as important as your understanding of the ANTTP and TOPGUN. With this in mind, ensure the admin portions of your plan are solid before you move onto objective area planning. Once you begin tactical planning, remember that keeping things “simple and easy to execute” will usually be your surest path to success. If the plan is not safe, it is not tactically sound.

3. Attitude. 

I firmly believe in the phrase “hire for attitude, train for skill.”

Work ethic, willingness to accept constructive criticism, and a professional approach to planning, briefing, and debriefing will get you 90% of the way towards any qualification or certification you are pursuing. The other 10% is comprised of in-flight judgment and performance, and that will often come as a result of the first 90%. Seek to learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Just as a championship football team debriefs their game film, we are going to analyze our tapes and conduct thorough flight debriefs. It has often been said that the success of a sortie is directly proportional to the caliber of the plan and brief. The other side of this coin is that the amount of learning that takes place as a result of a sortie is directly proportional to the caliber of the debrief.

4. Moral courage. 

Speak up if something seems wrong or unsafe.

We all know what the standards are supposed to be in Naval Aviation and in the Corps. Enforce them! When we fail to enforce the existing standards, we are actually setting and enforcing a new standard that is lower.

5. Dedication.

If you average one hour per workday studying, 6 months from now you will be brilliant. That is all it takes; one hour per day. As you start to notice the difference between yourself and those who are unable to find 60 minutes, I want you to know that I will have already taken note.

Then, I want you to ask yourself this question: “How good could I be if I really gave this my all?”

6. When all else fades away, attack pilots have one mission: provide offensive air support for Marines.

The Harrier community needs professional attack pilots who can meet this calling.

It does not require you to abandon your family. It does not require you to work 16 hours per day, six days per week. It requires only a few simple commitments to meet this calling: be efficient with your time at work so that you can study one hour per day; be fully prepared for your sorties and get the maximum learning possible out of every debrief; have thick skin and be willing to take constructive criticism; find one weekend per month to go on cross country. When you are given the opportunity to advance, for those few days go to the mat and give it your all, 100%, at the expense of every other thing in your life.

To quote Roger Staubach, “there are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

If you can be efficient during the workweek, give an Olympian effort for check rides and certifications, and are a team player, the sky will literally be the limit for you in this squadron.


  • Read "Command Based on Intent" on page 15 of Leading in the Wildland Fire Service.
  • Reread Lt. Col. Raible's memorandum and adapt his message to fit within the wildland fire service.
  • Consider providing your followers with a written statement expressing your intent. 
Thank you to willdand fire leaders Robert Morrow, U.S. Forest Service, and Rowdy Muir, U.S. Forest Service Flaming Gorge District Ranger, for sharing this information with us and Second Line of Defense's and the U.S. Naval Institute's permission to reprint Lt. Col. Raible's guidance.


Retired Marine said...

To add more detail into this Marine Officer below is the Pittsburg Post-Gazette story of his heroic sacrifice:
“ The conflict began when 15 members of the Taliban, dressed as U.S. military, cut a fence that ringed the base. They stormed a line of planes and helicopters there, destroying six Harrier jets and damaging two more, causing more than $200 million in damages that U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said was the single largest loss of U.S. military aircraft since the Vietnam War.
Lt. Col. Raible and another Marine, Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, were killed by an exploding grenade, but not before Lt. Col. Raible's fellow Marines reported that his quick organization played a significant role in containing the enemy before the Taliban were finally defeated.
"So, when the bad guys got to the gate, and they were attacking those airplanes, Chris Raible made a decision," Marine Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command, told the audience Saturday. "It was dark. It was chaotic. One man, one man with courage, Chris Raible, took charge. He organized those Marines and led a counterattack. He was killed in the process of doing that.”
That is the essence of Leaders taking charge, leading from the front, and making things happen despite the odds…
He has now been nominated for the Silver Star Medal.
“Otis” left a wife and three children 11, 9, and 2…
Memorial contributions may be made to the Christopher K. Raible Scholarship Fund, c/o S and T Bank, Irwin, PA 15642.

May he Rest in Peace,

Read more:

pmcdonald said...

Thanks for sharing your comment and link with us, Retired Marine. Thank you for your service.

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