By Col. Johnnie Martinez
19th Operations Group commander
Throughout the past couple of weeks, we have sent off a large contingent of deployers and also welcomed back many members of our 19th Airlift Wing team from deployment. For many it was their first deployment, and for a greater majority this was one of many deployments. In either case, you could feel the pride emanating from each and every person as they either looked forward to what they were about to do or recounted what they had just accomplished. These events bring home the reality of what we, as Airmen, have volunteered to do in service to our country. It also brings to the forefront the need to maintain a warrior ethos amongst our ranks as we provide Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power for our great nation. Sometimes we lose sight of that need to cultivate the warrior spirit as we get trapped in the daily grind here at Little Rock Air Force Base. However, this warrior code drives who we are as a service and why all of you do what you do each and every day. That is why it is important to recalibrate how we view our warrior culture as it relates to our mission and people.
Our charge, as Airmen, is to fly, fight and win. In order to accomplish this, we need to focus on how we contribute to the wing’s mission of providing combat capability. Make no mistake about it; each and every one of you is an important member of the Black Knight’s and our larger Air Force team. It is imperative that you understand where you fit in this puzzle. I believe that this is the mission crux of the warrior tenant, making sure everyone understands how they contribute to the “fight.” It is not just aircrew or maintenance personnel that make the mission happen, it is the “unseen” pieces that make mission success a reality. Many of you understand where you fit in this effort and how you contribute, but I’m sure there are probably a larger number of people who don’t. Therefore, it is important that we help educate each other on how integral each piece is to our success and foster that warrior ethos across our wing as it relates to the mission. Just as important, however, is making sure everyone understands what this warrior spirit entails for our people.
As Airmen, we are trusted to foster a climate of respect and dignity for all our members. This is built through inclusion and trust, not by creating an environment akin to the “good old boys club.” Too many people believe a warrior’s mentality is predicated on that type of environment, but that is farthest from the truth. Our warrior tenants, with respect to people, demand that we cultivate wingman practices of taking care of each other. We must drive out those types of unacceptable behaviors, such as sexual assault, that do not adhere to our principles of decency. Making sure everyone truly understands this warrior ethos and what it means to be a tightly knit band of warriors will help us combat these problems and hopefully put us on a path to eradicate them. We need everyone’s help to foster this type of environment if we are to solve these problems. We are all part of the solution.
I ask that you keep these thoughts I’ve laid out in mind as you go through your daily routines. Knowing where you fit into the mission and building that sense of trust with your fellow Airmen will go a long way in keeping us focused on that warrior ethos and ultimately enhance your already outstanding record of performance. Remember, what you do is important and as our Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Welsh, recently stated, “Airpower, because without it you lose.”