Chief of staff: Play your positions credibly

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Kidron B. Vestal
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs chief
Air Force officials have invigorated their demands for excellence, and one key leader is especially moved to ensure sustainment of that improvement.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the 19th Air Force chief of staff, visited the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an air base in Southwest Asia -- the host of more than 2,000 deployed Airmen -- to share that message Nov. 13.

The service's top uniformed officer was in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for a Middle East Air Chiefs Conference but took a day to visit with deployed Airmen. He spent the morning visiting with maintainers, operators and force support personnel and receiving mission briefings.

Addressing personnel at an afternoon Airman's call, the general noted that performance is the means to remaining a credible force that America can rely on. He implored the audience to think of the alternative.

Speaking solemnly, the general asked, "If we don't do our jobs, what's the substitute? Who takes our place?

"This is the backdrop. There is not a second United States Air Force," he said. "And so we, collectively, are going to keep the promise. We, collectively, are going to do whatever is necessary; whatever is required, for however long it's needed."

In the Air Force, not every "player" is used the same, the general said. But, he emphasized, not one position is more important than any other because "as we all play our respective positions, we succeed."

The approach is the same with respect to the Air Force's position on the joint team.

When questioned about the perception of equal importance with the Air Force's sister services. General Schwartz answered in the affirmative, on one condition: a premise and pattern of credible actions.

"We as an Air Force will do as I indicated; whatever we can do to ensure their success, the country's success, and in doing so, our reputation will be just fine," General Schwartz said.

Performance. Excellence. These are the hallmarks of a great Air Force, the general said. "Precision, reliability, compliance. This is doing it the right way, the Air Force way."

The general noted that these were the standards of Strategic Air Command, and that "their pursuits remain vital today in Air Force Global Strike Command" but also throughout the Air Force. "The leadership here has the mandate to maintain standards."

In addition to speaking on locally relevant subjects like the KC-X procurement schedule and the U-2 phase out, the 1973 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate closed on the topic of family.

Understanding the service is a family business, the general said, "We have to ensure we are paying attention to impacts on families even beyond deployments.  What we want to do collectively for the Air Force is make it difficult for people to want to leave, for whatever reason."

All needs are important, he said, from a child's transfer of academic credits following a move, or the servicing of special needs situations. "It all counts, and we are committed to taking care of business."