Thursday, March 3, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Airmen are the keys to success

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley spoke recently at the Air Force Association’s 27th Annual Air Warfare Symposium about the Air Force’s top priorities. He outlined the five priorities that we, as a service have committed to tackling in the coming years: strengthening the nuclear enterprise; partnering with the joint and coalition team to win today’s fight; developing and caring for Airmen and their families; modernizing air and space inventories, organizations, and training; and recapturing acquisition excellence.

Woven throughout his speech was a focus on Airmen and “managing human capital.” After outlining our service’s efforts towards achieving each of our priorities, Secretary Donley concluded his speech with this summation: “Our greatest guarantor of success is our Airmen, and that’s why developing and caring for Airmen and their families is a priority.

Taking care of Airmen and their families is a priority because it is on their shoulders that we prevail in today’s fights, that we will prevent and deter others, and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. It will be their insight, their innovation that will drive much of the way we organize, train, equip and operate to meet future challenges.”

Much has been said about, and significant effort put into taking care of our personnel and our families. We have seen dormitory quality vastly improve, family housing renovations and new construction programs mature across the Air Force, and education enhancements proliferate.

At the same time, we focus on the Wingman Concept, work to strengthen our Culture of Airmen Taking Care of Airmen, and most recently to foster a Culture of Resiliency. Why is that? It’s no mystery. John C. Maxwell, in his book, The 17 Irrefutable Laws of Teamwork stated it very well, “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

Our Air Force is the envy of all other air forces around the globe. There is one key reason for that—our Airmen. Our Airmen, and those who love and support them, are the keys to our success. Ensuring that we support and care for each other is how we continue that success. This success requires your support and active involvement. Be the leader who is willing to step in, the wingman who protects the “six” o’clock position for your partner, the Airmen that creates a culture and not a slogan.

I stated in a previous article how every day I marvel at the achievements and successes of our military branches and our personnel. I see daily just how great our personnel and their families are.

Returning to Secretary Donley, I echo his thoughts when he told the audience at the AETC Symposium last month that, “… in our Air Force, we’re surrounded by everyday heroes.

The word ‘hero’ is Greek for ‘protector’ or ‘defender’ and each Airman … has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States … We are blessed as a nation, as an Air Force, to have so many heroes in our ranks. Every Airman depends on every other Airman to accomplish important missions. All of whom will affect the outcome; all of whom are heroes…”

Take care of each other, and together we can take care of the mission. Thank you for being a hero.

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