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The American Airman: Our Strategic Advantage

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White

Teammates: First and foremost, I want to welcome my new wingman and leader, Lt. Gen. Healy and his lovely wife, Kathy, as he takes the helm for Team AFRC. I’m ecstatic for the continued direction and rate of speed he will keep this command moving, as outlined in his initial task order, CAFR/MAJCOM Commander TASKORD #202201, released to the field.

This is a must read for all leaders and supervisors at every level within this command. It identifies the necessary actions and steps needed of every Airman to meet the boss’ two key priorities of Ready Now! and Transforming for the Future, along with individual responsibilities and expectations.

For this commentary, I don’t want to focus too much on the TASKORD, because it is imperative for all members to review and understand it for themselves. If you have already read it, great ... please read it again. If you haven’t read it, please make it a priority to do so. There is no time to waste. Long gone are the days when the U.S. military enjoyed such a large strategic gap between us and our nearest competitors.

China and Russia are formidable foes who have made it their top priority to close this gap. Unfortunately, they’ve made significant progress over the past 20 years, and we must be ready now to deter aggression against the homeland, our allies and partners. Should deterrence fail, we must be ready now to fly, fight and win … anytime … anywhere.

Our Air Force has a strategic advantage that our adversaries cannot duplicate, replicate or steal. This advantage is the heart, will and soul of the American enlisted corps. This strategic advantage is the American Airman … the envy of adversaries across the globe.

I recently had the pleasure of watching my daughter graduate from Basic Military Training. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. As I stared into the sea of blue from the audience, I, like every other parent, was not looking for a BMT trainee. I looked for and saw my daughter.

I found myself pondering how it was that Airmen could walk so proudly across the graduation parade field one day, then walk out of our organizations the next, often within a year or two of graduation. Perhaps it’s how we view them … perhaps it’s how we treat them.

As leaders, we should view and treat all Airmen as if they were our sons, daughters, sisters or brothers, because guess what ... they are someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother. Every time we lose Airmen because we did not fulfill our commitment to train, lead, mentor or develop them, China wins. Every time we lose an Airman because we, as leaders, are more focused on our own careers versus the careers of our Airmen, Russia wins … our adversaries win.

I am not suggesting we change the structure of our culture of professionalism and discipline that has enabled us to remain the most lethal and dominating force ever known to mankind. I am, however, asking you to evaluate the level of influence you yield in any given situation, along with the decisions you make as a leader.

Would the energy and influence you yield, or the decisions you make be different if your son, daughter, sister or brother were on the other end? If so, perhaps you should reassess, reengage and reattack. Our adversaries are doing everything they can to tip the balance of power and strategic advantage in their favor. We must do all we can to keep it.

As always, it is a pleasure to serve alongside you as your command chief.