CSAF emphasizes readiness, teamwork at Kandahar

  • Published
  • By Capt. Frank Hartnett
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The men and women of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing and Kandahar Airfield welcomed Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to Southern Afghanistan April 24.

During his stop, Schwartz addressed a large number of Air Force personnel from throughout the installation at an all-call conducted in a flightline hangar here.

The general began the assembly with a roll call of the different specialties of the Airmen in the crowd. Personnel ranging from force support, operations and judge advocates general all had a chance to sound off as Schwartz called out their career fields.

"We are all proud of who we are and where we come from, but the truth of the matter is, individual stars don't win most contests," Schwartz said. "What's more important is how we work together--that's the key that will sustain us as an Air Force no matter what happens, because it's the best team that wins."

While the general said he was grateful for the efforts of all Airmen, he highlighted the contributions made by the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance community in today's ongoing combat operations.

"We've learned to not just provide intelligence for decision makers, but for Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines on the ground," Schwartz said. "Now, they know what's around the corner, behind the door or on the roof.

"We know our brave forces will do what is tactically necessary even without that knowledge, but why should we ask them to take that risk if we can provide situational awareness like we do today?" he asked. "Bottom line, ISR is fundamental to our Air Force and the Joint Team."

During the all-call, the general discussed a variety of issues with the attendees, including the rising trend of suicides in the Air Force.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a tragedy," he said. "So I am making a personal appeal to each of you. If there is someone here that you feel is stressed or struggling, please get them the help they need."

Schwartz called upon all Airmen to act as wingmen for one another and do whatever it takes to make a difference when their teammates need assistance.

"If the Airman to your left or to your right is struggling, reach out and offer assistance," he said. "Encourage them to seek help. Don't let one of our teammates make the very permanent decision of taking his or her life."

The general also shared his thoughts on the importance of maintaining Air Force readiness, as well as the American public's trust in its Airmen.

"If any one of you doesn't care for your physician, you can probably find another doctor to take care of your needs," Schwartz said. "If the American people lose their faith in their Air Force, where do they go? What's the substitute?"

"The truth of the matter is, there isn't one, and because of that we must all continue to step up and perform our duties to the utmost of our abilities."

Schwartz finished by thanking the audience members for their service, telling them that it is a privilege for his wife Suzie and him to be a part of the Air Force team.

"Thank you for service, and thank you for the sacrifice of your families," he said.