Jumper emphasizes total force development during visit

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Tredway
  • 39th Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper met recently with airmen here who support operations Northern Watch and Enduring Freedom.

The stop was one of many Jumper and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald Murray are making to observe overseas operations and visit troops during the holiday season.

"You could argue Incirlik may be the most important base we use, and it will continue to be so," Jumper said. "If you put Incirlik Air Base in the middle of a map and look at the neighbors, you can tell instantly what the importance of this place is. It's surrounded by strategically significant countries that play a big part in the day-to-day politics of the entire world and, in the future, they're just going to get more and more important."

Incirlik's location also places it in the middle of the war on terrorism.

"We're flying over Iraq with Northern Watch day in and day out," Jumper said. "We've seen [Saddam Hussein] over the years pursue weapons of mass destruction. You don't have to look much further than that to talk about the importance of Turkey in the war on terrorism."

And, said Jumper, Incirlik airmen could not carry out their vital missions without the total force concept.

"We have Guard units from Iowa and Pennsylvania mixed in with our active-duty forces all getting the same job done," Jumper said. "It's an amazing thing to see. We couldn't do our job today without the Guard and Reserve and the sacrifices that they make as they leave their homes and regular jobs. Many are activated and have to leave higher paying jobs for long periods."

That's why one of Jumper's primary focuses is the continuing evolution of the air and space expeditionary force. World events are putting more demand on the Air Force, he said. The more demand that is put on our forces, the more people have to get into a "rhythm of deployment, so that there's some notion of predictability in the lives of our people."

Jumper is also focusing on getting the people needed to perform competently in today's expeditionary world through total force development.

"We want to make sure that those who have ambitions to be commanders or program directors have the background and knowledge to do that," he said,

Total force development would also give those that would like to remain in their chosen specialty in a hands-on capacity, such as scientists and engineers, the opportunity to advance to the highest level of achievement that they can as a specialist.

"If we think you need a master's degree to do that, then we give you the opportunity to do that and we don't require people to spend all weekend or three nights a week like I did in night school to go get a master's degree just to be competitive for promotion," he continued. "We want a master's degree, an advanced academic degree, to have meaning. We want it to blend with professional military education and we want our PME to be relevant and useful to the Air Force we live in today."

While total force development will help the Air Force grow tomorrow's leaders, Jumper said he won't let them lead through e-mail.

"People probably know folks who sit behind their desk for hours generating tasks for other people so that they're kept behind their desks answering those tasks or answering that e-mail," he said. "What that does is dilute leadership.

Leadership is an analog skill in this digital world we live in. There's no substitute for getting off your butt and getting out there, face-to-face, human-to-human. Contact, that's leadership." (Courtesy of United States Air Forces in Europe News Service)