The Enlisted Perspective|
9/22/2011 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- Good morning, everyone. Here we are Wednesday, almost to the end. What a great conference Sandy, you and General Dunn have put on. Just a fabulous event here this week. And I just want to say, you probably notice in the audience there's one individual that's missing. That person is missing this morning because Mr. Schlitt and General Dunn have put together a dynamic family program which Ms. Paula and Ms. Suzy Schwartz are over speaking with them today. Again, thank you so much for doing that. We enjoy having the families here. This is the very first time doing that, so thank you all so much.
Mr. Secretary, again sir, thank you. You honor us with your presence here today and an opportunity to share a little bit with you on kind of the enlisted perspective. General Hoffman, General North, again, Generals, thank you so much for being here. Mr. Davidson, my goodness. How many decades? [Laughter]. I asked him on the way into the forum the other day, I said how many of these have you been to? I won't tell you how many that is, but it was two years before I was born. [Laughter]. Thank you so much for your dedication to your nation, sir. We honor you and are deeply indebted to you as well. And ma'am, thank you so much for being here as well.
Folks, we've got a couple of things for you today. What we'd like to do is, again, as the presentation would lead you to believe, the enlisted perspective. What I'd like to do -- It's going to be a little bit different. Bottom line, up front. You're part of the finest Air Force in the entire world, and part of the best military the entire world has ever known. The most combat hardened force that we have ever amassed and continue to march forward. You're part of that, and in the future you're going to still be part of the finest Air Force in the United States, the finest Air Force across our entire globe. So be proud of it.
There are some things in here that I'm going to present to you that may be a little bit disturbing to you, because some of you have told me that. That's what I'm going to present to you today.
What I'd like to do is kind of give you an idea where we are today, some of tomorrow's challenges as I see it. Obviously we're here at AFA and it has an awful lot to do with industry. I'll throw a little bit in there on that piece as well. Then where we're going from my perspective, some of the initiative that we started, some of the things that have already kicked off and are running very very well, and some of those things that we haven't kicked off yet but we're slowing approaching, getting ready to put those in action.
Before we get started, though, what I thought I would do is maybe give you a little bit of an idea about what some of our airmen are doing out here. As you know, if you've sat in any of my presentations before, one of the things I think we as senior enlisted leaders ought to do is present our enlisted force and what they're doing. I'm going to do it a little bit differently this year. Some of you may recognize the sound here, but let me get this started for you.
You obviously recognize that music, "Send Me". It was presented by the Air Force band, Max Impact the other evening. Some of you may not know the history behind this song. The history behind the song is that Master Sergeant Carlson and Master Sergeant Ascione actually drafted that song up. Master Sergeant Carlson sang it the other night and did just a fantastic job, the first time it ever presented outside of their theater, if you will. So again, thank you for bringing that music up to us. And for all those Airmen in that picture and in those slide sets, thank you for your action, thank you for what you continue to do for our United States military and of course our United States as a nation as well.
Where are we sending you? We talked about send me. Where are we sending you? As you can see here, it's a little bit of a depiction of 41,000 Airmen today are deployed somewhere around the globe. Somewhere around the globe. That's a pretty high number. But I would bring your attention to the bottom of that screen there when it talks about the 191,000 Airmen that are somehow affecting the battlespace somewhere around the world. Either at a forward station, maybe some strategic airlift and some of these other assets that we have out there. It's not something that we normally speak of, but look at the bottom line down there -- 43 percent of our active duty, Guard and Reserve, our total force, is actively engaged in the battlespace somewhere today. That's an awful lot of people. Something we don't normally talk about. But it's something we need to talk about and we need to continually carry that message specifically to our joint partners.
Having said that, there's a lot of things on people's minds. Again, a little bit different venue, but as I travel around the world and visit with Airmen every single day, they ask me a lot of questions. A lot of questions. Here's some of them.
What's on Airmen's minds? Wow. I'll take the first one up there.
When will low density/high demand career fields get a break? Let me talk about that for just a minute. What is a low density/high demand career field? Certainly our battlefield Airmen fall in that category. And another particular AFSC, that being EOD falls into that category as well. What are we doing a little bit different to try to get more Airmen into that career field? Obviously there's NCO retraining, there's retraining in general that we try to push towards that. We also have a pretty good recruitment theme, if you will, to gather Airmen to go into these AFSCs, but what are we doing once we get there?
Some of the things that we're starting, if you will, one of them is a preliminary course for EOD. Taking it from 6 days to 20 days, and moving it to Sheppard Air Force Base where we've increased the preliminary course. Before they go down to Eglin Air Force Base to work with our joint partners and train with our joint partners. We're doing those kinds of assessments, if you will. We're also doing pre-assessments before we even get there. Emotional assessments, if you will. Testing their level of how will they work under pressure. Not necessarily IQ, but more EQ -- how do they deal with stress? How do they deal with that? And that's not the only AFSC that we're looking at, but that's certainly a low density/high demand.
In fact I will tell you if you look at the fatalities across our Air Force, the highest propensity of them are within the EOD career field.
What else is on their minds? Let me share a couple of other things with you. Here's one that I get quite often. Why did we go to electronic copies of information? Let me share with you a couple of things. Why is this important to you? I think there's a lesson in here that we need to kind of address as well. It's not necessarily the topics, even though I will tell you on these specific topics, the PDG, that Professional Developmental Guide that we all look for, including the officer corps look for, that was not going to be printed this year. It was one of those kinds of secondary, tertiary effects to maybe an efficiency initiative that we started and we didn't look all the way through. That's the lesson. We've got to look through these things. We cannot simply cut something without looking at what the effects are going to be.
Every single Airman that asked me that question came back with the response of I've got to have it. There's no way I can WAPS test, there's no way I can keep it in my office without having a hard copy that I can highlight. It's important to me.
The other one I would call your attention to is the CDCs. We did this a little bit differently. We went out there and told the force sure, you can have this electronic CDC but we also kind of pushed it at them saying no, you will have a hard copy. We've readdressed it a little bit but there's some failures in that as well. What I mean by that is if you ask any young Airman out there today, hey have you got electronic CDCs or are you getting the hard copy CDCs? They'll tell you, I'm getting electronic. They have a choice. They did. We went back. We readdressed it. They said they have a choice. What are they doing with those electrons? The first thing they'll tell you is, print them in my shop, chief. What have we just done? The other ones will tell you, but chief, I took that file downtown to Kinkos and for about $140 I ended up with these six or eight volumes of CDCs.
Folks, we need to look this through. One of the things that I've noted on and on again is this idea of electronic readers. Sure, we all think, those of us in the front row, myself, and especially the second row there, all the chiefs. We all think there's no way I can do an electronic piece. I've got to have my piece of paper. Young Airmen tell me that as well. But we have to have the ability not just to read a document on an electronic reader, we have to have the ability to highlight and underscore and do these other things. If you're going to have people that use these documents. It's been a problem and something that we need to address and continue to address.
Right now HAF/A6 asked for a business case analysis on this, along with working with AETC to kind of get to the best angle of this so that we can address this concern of our Airmen.
As you can see, there are hundreds and hundreds of other questions as well.
Such as this. The No. 1 question I get when I travel, of course I've been on the road for probably about the last month. The No. 1 question is, General Schwartz addressed this, the Secretary addressed this. What is the change to our retirement system?
Let me just say this, and I'll talk a little bit later about it in my presentation, but there are a couple of things I would just point out to you here. No. 1, as the Chief of Staff mentioned yesterday, in the tenure that I've been in our Air Force, the personnel costs have risen over 65 percent while the end strength continues to come down well over 45 percent. There's something different there, something going on. And it's something we need to address.
What got people stirred up was this idea that this DBB, Defense Business Board panel that put together and designed this retirement system, that somehow our Airmen were looking at that saying they went from a decision of collecting data to implementation. In their mind that's what happened and we never asked them one thing about it.
Folks, we have a commitment to our all-volunteer force. We have a commitment to our all-volunteer force and we need to stick with that commitment. But that is the No. 1 question that I get.
What are those changes? There are changes coming. There are certainly changes coming, obviously the Secretary mentioned to you Monday, the Chief of Staff mentioned to you again yesterday, there are changes coming.
As I look at it, here are a couple of items I would point out to you. No. 1, our fiscal challenges and some advancing technologies. As I look at the fiscal challenges I would bring your attention to something that the Chief said yesterday, and that is that our program and our force structure will change. It has to change. But we need to look at it programmatically rather than just as a force reduction. We'll look at it as a program. Individual programs. A lot of times in Airmen's minds when they hear force structure change, what do they think of? Here we go again, PBD720. Right? That's what I hear. But we need to look at this, and we are, we are looking at this as a program rather than just simply a force structure change.
I mentioned already personnel compensation. I mentioned to you the variable there. It's certainly a problem that we need to address. There are changes that will happen. It was mentioned earlier in the week, the idea is that some military advice ought to be given as well. We cannot just simply take a business case off the shelf and apply it to the United States military.
What I like to say is something along this order. When a lot of people talk about the enlisted force, the first thing that comes to their mind is this fact that we try to compare them to the outside of the force. We try to compare them, that they're uneducated. That's not true. That is not true. I can tell you of Airman after Airman after Airman that I have met graduating from basic training with a master's degree, a doctorate. They are very educated. If I dug into CCAF and if I dug into some of our other educational programs it would tell me that our force is very very educated.
Beyond the education, though, I would draw your attention to the responsibility that these Airmen have. Let's not compare them to somebody that works at WalMart. These Airmen are launching aircraft -- $130 million aircraft. Is that the same level of responsibility that we have with somebody at WalMart? It's not. It is not.
What about risk? We all know. We all accepted that risk when we came in our United States Air Force. For myself, many others, we accepted that well over 30 years ago, or near 30 years ago. We know what those risks are and we accept those risks. But there's certainly something to be said about that, that we cannot simply take something off the shelf and apply it, a business model, and apply it to a military model. We need to take that into consideration.
A sense of community. Secretary Donley and General Schwartz launched the Year of the Air Force Family in July of 2009. We wrapped it up in July of 2010. Some would say what was the purpose of the Year of the Air Force Family? Bottom line? The bottom line was to look at our programs and tell us what works and what doesn't work. Eliminate those things that do not work and highlight the ones that do. Share those best practices so they can be launched somewhere else. We're talking about it again. This is the second edition of it. This idea of sense of community. What is it on our bases, what is it around our bases today that would draw Airmen back to that installation?
I have to tell you, I was a little disappointed this year. I went over to the youth center and paid my ... I can't tell you how many dollars it was, it was a lot, to have my son play flag football. He came back to me the other day when I came back from TDY and he said dad, I'm not going to play football this year. Son, what's going on? Why would you not play football? It's in your heart. You love it. Of course in baseball season that's in his heart too. But the point is this. The point is, there were not enough children to have any teams. What is it? What draws families back to an installation? To that idea that this is a community. It's not an installation, it's a community. But we have to continue to look at this as well. We have to look at it from the efficiency angle too. Why would somebody want to come back? Is it the library? It certainly may be a library if that's the only thing you've got in town. But is it the bowling alley? If you've got a bowling alley outside your base, your installation, maybe it's not. It's the community. What draws people back to the community? Et cetera, et cetera. Why do I put it that way?
Many have been quoted, including our Secretary of Defense to state that nothing is off the table. What I propose to you as fellow Airmen is nothing is off the table, but you have a vote in this as well. You need to tell us what works, what doesn't work. Help us with that.
And then I look at advancing technologies. Wow. There's a lot of stuff going on around our world. I presented this at AFSA, and did it a little bit different way, and I presented this at the last Senior Enlisted Leader Summit a kind of different way. We had a couple of great briefers come in to talk about advancing technologies. Of course we had one come in and just scared them all to death. One of them told me, actually it was one of the former chiefs, told me, chief, I'm 80 years old and I was scared. What am I scared about? There are a lot of neat things going on too, though.
If I take each one of these. Look at biotechnology. What is it about biotechnology, the advancement? If you look at that line there, what have we drawn to from 1900 to 2000? Our industry. Airplanes. Aircraft. Spacecraft. The Internet. All those things.
But if I draw your attention to biotechnology, what is it within there? Where will this advance to? The thought is within the next decade or so you will have the ability, we will have the ability to be able to work through, genetically work through some of these major diseases that we have and have a solution for them. That's good news. That is good news. What's the bad news? The bad news is some rogue young student out there in the wrong hands could design something that we need to prepare for, but can design something that we could not immune ourselves to. What we have to do is prepare ourselves to respond in a matter of hours rather than months. H1N1. What did it take us, about nine months to actually gen that thing up and ship it and get everybody immunized? In this case we're not going to have a matter of months. It's something we need to think about.
If we look at cyber. Boy, we've had a lot of good discussions on cyber. The entry video was talking about the cyber symposium that we have here at the National Harbor. Drawn a lot of attention to it. I myself was just at a conference in Germany where we talked about cyber as well, and some of the things that I take away from that was No. 1, it's not just our systems that we should be worried about. It's those other systems out there. It's the water system. It's the power grid. It's the banking industry. Should we be worried about that? Sure we should. Absolutely. There's absolutely some advantages to it as well, though.
If you look at it from a command and control aspect, look at what we're doing with it today. Did we ever think it would be a battlespace, though? We never thought that. Cyber Command. Cyberspace is an area that we need to focus on and we are.
The Secretary, the Chief have put their focus to that, stood up 24th Air Force within the last couple of years and they are working this hard.
Nano-technology. I draw your attention to nano-technology only to say this. This idea that you can take these large explosives and probably put them into what they tell me is the size of a dime to take down an aircraft. Is that a problem? Sure it is. Look at 9/11. Look at the effects. Look at the terror effect. What's the advantages to this? Look at the advantages to all this. Look at something that we can take, slim it down to a point where it's much lighter, and look at the effect it could have on our explosive ability. Look at the effects it would have on our logistics as well. So there are certainly some advantages to this.
Where are we going? We have all these things happening to us. What's going on with this? What are we doing to look at these particular areas?
On this particular point I would say this. I'm going to break it down by operation, deliberate development, and then of course our resiliency.
AEF Next. A lot of discussion on AEF Next. The Chief mentioned it yesterday. This is the next step to the AEF. There's a lot of discussion. Obviously there is a decision to be made and that decision will be made at Corona. Then after that we would launch this, within a matter of years we should have it deployed out there.
Why do I draw your attention to this? As you see it here, people would be pushed into air power teams. Why is that important? To have people as a team. No. 1 is, again, going back to some of those complaints that I shared with you earlier. One of the complaints I hear all the time is this idea that why am I deploying by myself? I'm falling in on another team that fell in on another team and it's just kind of a mismatch. How do we explain that to our joint partner? How do we explain that to OSD and our joint staff? This is going to help clarify it. This will help clarify that.
I like it because what it does is you fight like you train. You certainly train like you fight, but the idea is you fall in with your unit leadership. You deploy as a unit rather than as an individual. It's a little bit different than what we do today. Is that good? Absolutely. Fall in with your own commander, your own first sergeant, your own superintendent. There's a lot of goodness in that. We ought to exploit that and I think we will. I think a good thing will come out of this, a great decision will come out of this soon, and we will be launching this forward very very early.
What about exercises? In my mind we've got a little bit of a dilemma. What do I mean by this? We keep talking about drawing this force down in Iraq. We are. We're drawing that force down in Iraq. We will be, we're not yet but we will be drawing down eventually in Afghanistan. The challenge for us as leaders, and I think in the United States Air Force today is how do we keep drawing those innovative, young Airmen to us and then how do we keep them? The bulk of the force in reality, today, has come in after 9/11. What have they known? They've known this. They've known Iraq, Afghanistan, they can tell you where things are, they can tell you what they did in their first deployment as well as they can tell you what they did on their eighths deployment. How are we going to replicate that in the future? What's going to motivate these young Airmen?
We always talk about this training, and then we never get to do it. That's what the chiefs all talked about because that's what I talked about. I kept working at this all the time I was a young Airman, but we never went anywhere. Young Airmen are not exposed to that today. They are not exposed to that at all.
I think exercises is a point that we need to highlight because it's exercises that we need to continue to take all that training, all that development, and put it to use. We need to put it to use. You can see here, we have joint exercises, we certainly have coalition, interagency exercises, and of course we have our own Air Force exercises. Code Tiger out of Singapore. Brought together some forces from PACAF along with other forces around the theater, multilateral, if you will, and worked together. Not just aircraft, but maintainers and logistics as well. That's what we need to do in the future.
Global Strike Command has new exercises. [Inaudible] Constant Vigilance. Brand new exercise. Drawing attention to using that training, that education that we have so dearly put into our young Airmen. We need to continue to focus on those things. I think exercising in the future is going to be something we need to continue to highlight.
Then this idea of partnership. Why is partnership so important? I highlighted up here the fact that it is a service core function. It's one of service core functions. This idea of building partner nation capacity. A couple of ways that we could, and we do, build partnership.
One would ask the first question, why do we need partnerships? Why do we need this? Then you would have to ask yourself well why do we need access? Why do we need to use certain airfields at certain times? Obviously when something were to go astray we have a partner somewhere that we could rely on. It's about building relationships that helps get our access, but also that alliance, those alliances that are out there, those coalitions that are out there. We need to continue to do those things.
See, I just threw up a couple of ideas on how we're doing this already. We have both in the officer and enlisted corps very good educational training venues. I just highlighted one of them to you today. The fact that we are now set forth, we are given full credit for a few of our coalition partner schools for some of our senior NCOs. Canada, for instance; New Zealand; Australia; and there are a few others that we're looking at. We're giving them full credit for our courses while they attend our partner nation courses.
Build partnership? You bet. Build that lifelong relationship? You bet. That's what we're doing.
Exchange programs? We have plenty of exchange programs, both in the PME side but more importantly in the operational side. Those are important to continue to build those relationships.
Then the next area, deliberate development, kind of where I see it is one of my primary roles. How do we continue to develop our Airmen for the future? I've always broken it down by three different topics. Experience, education and training.
Experience. What would we look at when we talk about the experience of our Airmen today? I already told you that we're the most combat hardened force we've ever had. Most combat hardened force. We have had Airmen in the theater for years on end. We also have had Airmen working different battles spaces for different combatant commanders, and they absolutely understand that. But I draw your attention to these two topics. This idea of Enlisted Development Teams. A lot of four stars have given us feedback on this as well because we started off with eight different AFSCs in the pilot program. Absolute success. We're getting ready to launch six new AFSCs. But let me just tell you, this is not just a DT. This not just a normal DT. It doesn't have to be conducted only at AFPC. It doesn't have to be done that way. It can be done however that functional manager wants to do it. If they want to do it at a conference, bring those leaders in to look at those records, so be it.
What are they trying to do? No. 1, look at the requirements out there and then look at the inventory, how do we apply that inventory to those requirements? That's what it's about.
Some people said no, that's a new assignment system. No, no, no. It's not. It is not a new assignment system. It is working within those particular areas to highlight the fact that our Airmen have experience, education and training, and put them into those right positions so that we can continue to get the results that we want but also continue to grow those Airmen?
Strategic Senior NCO positions. There are a couple of things we've just started and getting ready to start. I mentioned to you earlier about building partner nation capacity. We have two Airmen out there, both one in PACAF and one in USAFE, that are doing that particular role in the A5. They're working with our partner nations and helping them with their enlisted development, which helps them continue to grow as well.
Also LL. Legislative liaison. We do not have somebody within that particular function, if you will, it's kind of grown around that function. We're getting ready to launch this as well, this idea that why would we kind of have a senior NCO fall in on our fellows program? Why wouldn't we?
I was downstairs having lunch with the staffers the other day, with the Secretary, and one of them asked me about it. Here's what they asked me. Chief, how come we have a Soldier over there, we have a Marine over there, how come we don't have any Airmen? We're working at it.
One of the best things a wing commander can do when they come in and, and command chief, the best thing they can do when they come in for their annual look and visit to their congressional delegate is the fact that they bring young lieutenant, young Airman with them. Instant credibility. I've heard it over and over again, the direction, they get pulled away from the command chief and the wing commander, over to the lieutenant and the senior airman. Is that true? Absolutely. It's instant credibility. Instant credibility. They love having you there.
What about this idea of education? What are we doing? CCAF. Why would I bring CCAF up? CCAF's been around since 1972. It has. It has served us so well. Served us so well. We have more than 300,000 graduates of this, nearly 400,000 graduates that have a CCAF degree now. But I would draw your attention to two new ones. One is this idea that I talked about cyber earlier. We have a new cyber program out there. One that was just started. I think we've already launched it. And we're getting ready to march forward with that as well. This idea that the certification for management. Since January, this just launched as well, but since January we have had 3,000 Airmen get their certification for management. Graduated with that. That is good news.
So even though it's been around for a while it still continues to serve us so well.
Correspondence courses. Why do I bring up the correspondent course? Let me draw your attention to one in particular. This idea of our professional military education. The fact is our Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, our Airmen within those components, only about ten percent of them actually go in-residence PME. Some of these correspondence courses we have had out there are well over seven years old. Anything change in seven years? I know in my life it has. Certainly in the Air Force it has. We have just updated the ALS. We just launched the NCO Academy. And we will be launching in January the new Senior NCO Academy. But this isn't the end of it. The next step to that is this idea of more of a distance learning. Distance learning. We need to take advantage of some of this technology that's out there.
But there's also a caution. We can't rely only on those forms. The Airmen that do go in-residence -- You'll get some that say it's the same thing I got when I was a young Airman and I went to Airman Leadership School. But the majority of the force will tell you how valuable that has been, that experience. Not just the curriculum, but the experience of going in-residence. But we need to leverage some of that technology that's out there.
The idea of training. I traveled with the Secretary not too long back. One of our bases, as we got in front of the group, again, we got asked a couple of questions and I keep focusing on this training piece. What scares you the most? This one concerns me the most. This is the one I would draw your attention to.
As we go through these efficiency initiatives, as we go through bringing the budget down, there will be a draw to eliminate some of our training. There will be a draw to work more operation than there is training. I like to say it this way. We're risking our future if we do that. Both in our initial training that is done both at basic training, I would start it there. We've got two and a half weeks that have been added to it when we added the BEAST to it and many other items that have fallen in on that particular topic. And it starts with basic training. It goes through 2nd Air Force. Every one of our training units. How important that is.
The Secretary and I traveled down to Keesler not too long back and what is it, we kept talking about what is this dynamic piece, how do we get these Airmen to come through this and then at the end we have this graduate? This technician that's going to go out there and work on these multi-million dollar aircraft. What's that magic? I kind of pointed to the direction, the magic is in those NCOs that are training. That's the magic. That's something we've got to continue to focus on. If we don't focus on that, we are risking our future. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if it's just enlisted training, it doesn't matter if it's officer training. It's important. Initial training along with our upgrade training.
Somebody said well chief, why don't you use this vignette? What's more important? We can drop off a piece of the training, but what's more important, the takeoff part of the training or the landing part of training? It's all important. It is all important. We've got to continue to focus on it.
Then the last subject there. This idea of a training record. How do we keep track of all this training? I will tell you today they tell me there's two primary means out there to keep track of training. What are those things? We've got AFTRs, TBA, those are the two primaries. By the way, that's done out of A4/7. Lieutenant General Reno funds all that stuff. If you want to use it, you pay your tax to him and he'll allow you to use it. Of course I'm being a little facetious there. But the fact is there's two systems. Of course there's the one I remember the most, and that is this idea of the hard copy, 623As. I think we need to leverage some of this technology that's out there and we need a individual, single, one training record system. We're marching forward with that. We have a business case that's been launched. We did a rapid improvement event and we've got a business case analysis being done on it today, and we will get forward with this. I think this is important.
Should we track more than just upgrade training? Initial and upgrade training, we should track all of your training. How about your ancillary training? How about your CAST training, your CST training? It ought to track all of it.
Then the last thing. This idea that resiliency. Combat hardened, been at war for a long time. What is it? Comprehensive Airman Fitness. First and foremost. This is not a new program. We didn't launch a new program. This is a concept. It's a concept that we take care of Airmen. I show you the four categories up here because it's important that we touch bases with every single one of those things.
We've had quite a bit of experience with this in a couple of commands. The United States Air Force CAIB, the headquarters CAIB approved it on 30 March of this particular year, and we are pushing forward with it in a very large way. But it's a culture that's out there. It's kind of expanding on that new, the one that we know best, and that's the Wingman Program. Taking care of each other. But it kind of gives you the elements to take care of folks.
This idea of Master Resiliency Training. Wow. It's a part of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, but I would tell you it's teaching skills, life skills, to those Airmen. Currently today we do it at one particular place, but soon we will be able to do it at our installations. It's done through our IDS's at our installations, but we need to get to this point because, quite frankly, there are a lot of indicators out there and you know what some of those are. There's a lot of indicators out there that would lead you to believe that our people are struggling a little bit. They're struggling with some life situations.
A little story here. One young lady, the A1C that went to this course, married to another, A1C, after she finished the course she talked about, raving about the fact that gosh, when I used to tell my husband, the other A1C, I used to tell my husband to do the dishes, he never did them. He still doesn't do them, but at least we don't argue about it now. [Laughter]. It's being able to deal through these life situations.
Then leadership pathways. Dover Air Force Base started this. This has been an incentive program to help incentivize those life skills, if you will, to bring focus, bring attention to those life skills that our Airmen need.
An instance of this. We draw them into some of these areas that they wouldn't typically go. I often tell the story, I had to go for a doctor's appointment not long back and I had to go there at night. I went to the top floor and I was coming down and life skills was on one of the floors when I walked out. I looked at them. The first thing I was looking for was a camera. Anybody see me? I'm not the only Airman that thinks that way. We need to draw them in there, incentivize them going to those areas so it's not that way. This program does that. This absolutely gets to that because it incentivizes it.
They had a nutritional program that filled up within 90 minutes. They couldn't get anybody there. Why is nutrition a concern? Did we talk about health care earlier? Sure, we did. Many of us talked about health care. So incentivizing some of those programs out there that mean a lot to our Airmen, and we need those Airmen to focus on it.
So where are we at? Wow. I've taken you through a couple of things that are certainly on our minds, a couple of things that are somewhat controversial, some of the questions that our Airmen raise. But the end of the day, the end of the day, what are you? You're part of the finest Air Force in the entire world, and a part of the best military that has ever existed. Why? Because of those young Airmen. Just like these young Airmen.
It's my pleasure to be a part of this conference this week, and I wish you much success throughout your career. Thank you so much.