Thursday, February 26, 2009

Advice to Any Airman

Dear Airman,

Welcome to the most exclusive fraternity/sorority you could possibly have been chosen to enter, the Profession of Arms, and, more exclusively, the United States Air Force. You have joined a true family, and one to which you will remain a member long after your active/reserve service ends.

As a result of 26 + years on active duty and a subsequent 16 years working in various civilian occupations, I would like to offer you some observations about the path you have chosen. You will be given levels of authority and responsibility at an earlier point in your career far greater than you would ever be entrusted with in a civilian organization. You will also find that, as a group, your USAF comrades have a degree of integrity and dedication to their mission which you cannot find in any civilian organization. You will receive the best technical training one earth, and a rigorous program of leadership training which is recognized as outstanding by virtually every employer and leadership “expert” in America. Take full advantage of both, they are as good as or better than you can get at any Ivy League school.

The Air Force provides you with these tools to build in you the qualities required to perform under pressure and lead your people in doing the same. I found, over the years that those qualities can be summed up in what I call the five “Cs”. They are:

Competence – Learn your job, and not just what the regulation or the Tech Order says, but why. If your people ask why, tell them, and if you don’t know, don’t stop until you find out.

Confidence – You and your people need to know that you really believe the mission will succeed. Nothing destroys a unit’s morale faster than a lack of confidence.

Courage – Certainly physical courage is a cornerstone of military service, but often, you may be called upon to exhibit moral courage, which is often more difficult. Learn to make the tough decision, and to deliver the truth, even when it is not what the boss or your troops want to hear.

Commitment – Military service is a 24 hour-a-day, 365 day-a-year job. There will most certainly be family time, and the Air Force is very sensitive to trying to provide that at every opportunity. In addition, you can be certain that if you are not there to take care of your family, no other organization in America does a better job of filling that role than the USAF. However, always be aware that you are a very visible representative of your country, both on and off duty, and the mission comes first. My family, and most others with whom I had close contact, understood that, and were proud to support me in discharging that responsibility.

Class – The USAF not only strives to accomplish its mission, but to do it in an atmosphere of absolute professionalism. Any job worth doing is worth doing with right, and with class.

You will find that, as a group, your comrades in the USAF exhibit these five qualities, and they are what separate us from other professions. You will find that they are highly prized by all successful organizations. Your technical and leadership training and experience in the USAF will offer you the opportunity to build these five qualities in your personal character, and along the way you’ll have a heck of a lot of fun, and meet the greatest people you will ever know. Finally, let me suggest that you consider Joining the Air Force Association. Membership is the best way to help keep your Air Force strong, and will keep you in touch with your fraternity long after your active/reserve status is officially over. Best wishes for a great career!

David A. Dietsch
President, AFA Texas