Wolf Pack can succeed by developing sound judgement

  • Published
  • By Col Kenneth 'Viper' Rizer
  • 8th Operations Group commander
In 1967, Col. Robin Olds brilliantly devised and executed his plan for Wolf Pack pilots to ambush North Vietnamese Migs during Operation Bolo. 

The result was seven enemy aircraft shot down in mere hours. Colonel Olds' pilots achieved these kills through an elaborate ruse. They flew their F-4s in profiles similar to the more vulnerable F-105s, luring the North Vietnamese Mig-21s into engaging what they thought were easy kills. How surprised they must have been to see F-4s shooting missiles at them instead. 

Operation Bolo is a classic example of victory in war achieved by out-thinking the enemy. It proves the greatest weapon we possess is actually our mind. Yet the concept of out-thinking the enemy applies to more than just air-to-air combat it applies to day-to-day challenges as well. 

Here at Kunsan, we have a disproportionate share of such challenges, to include sexual assaults, alcohol abuse and inappropriate relationships. Combating these enemies to good order and discipline requires out-thinking the enemy. While Col. Robin Olds out-thought his airborne enemy by creating a tactical ruse, we can out-think our land-based threats to good order and discipline by exercising sound judgment. 

Judgment is a mode of thinking derived from experience, both learned and lived. For Col. Robin Olds, it came as a result of learning from the stories of his World War II veteran flying instructors. He then applied those lessons as a young fighter pilot in the European theater himself. The result was thirteen kills and he became a double ace in the war. 

The analogy holds for young Kunsan Airmen, who also develop judgment through experience, learned and lived. Just as Col. Robin Olds learned how to gun down ME-109s from veteran pilots, our Kunsan Airmen must learn how to conduct themselves responsibly on the ground through the teaching of our NCOs and field grade officers. 

Yet merely learning the lessons is insufficient. Col. Robin Olds needed to internalize what he'd learned from his instructors and then apply those lessons in aerial fields of fire. So must our Kunsan Airmen take the lessons they're given regarding professional conduct, internalize them and apply them in the fields of peer-pressure and social stress. Only by taking this step of changing behavior through application of learned and lived experience can our Airmen develop sound judgment. 

As a result of learning judgment as a young fighter pilot, Col. Robin Olds developed into a triple ace and one of the greatest American pilots and leaders in history. He was the Wolf Pack's forefather as Wolf #1. While developing judgment as young Airmen won't guarantee such success, without it, success is almost certainly unachievable. We should all learn from the first Wolf that the key to defeating our enemies, be they Migs or unprofessional behaviors, lies in good judgment. 

For this next year of the continuing Wolf Pack saga, we can best honor our proud heritage by remembering how Robin Olds defeated his enemies by out-thinking them. We too can succeed by developing sound judgment.