CSAF visits Ramstein, focus on people, pride, respect
By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 09, 2014
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) --
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III returned to Ramstein Air Base July 8-9 to speak with Airmen, listen to their stories of service, update them on pressing issues facing the Air Force, and thank them for their service.
The chief of staff got a firsthand look at the base and the Airmen who make the mission happen in Europe to support three geographic combatant commands and worldwide operations. The visit also included his wife, Betty, who visited with Airmen responsible for taking care of Ramstein Airmen and families.
During an all call July 8, Welsh focused on people, pride and respect. The general opened his remarks with a heartfelt thank you to Ramstein AB Airmen.
"I'm here really just for one reason and that's to say thank you," Welsh said. "Thanks for everything you do, how well you do it and the incredible way you represent our nation and Air Force."
Welsh expressed how every Airman, regardless of rank, plays a crucial role in accomplishing the Air Force mission.
"Every Airman is critically important to what we do and you deserve to be treated that way," he said. "I don't care how long you serve, or if you're standing up here as the chief master sergeant of the Air Force or chief of staff of the Air Force, you deserve the same amount of respect. You can do anything you want; you just have to be willing to work for it."
The general went on to say how important it is to have pride in what Airmen do every day, because it is pride that breeds success.
"I really believe that if you recruit the best people on Earth -- which I think we do -- and if you make them proud of who they are and what they do and who they stand beside, then you get performance you can't get any other way," Welsh said. "I think that's the key to success for our Air Force.”
The all call included a Q-and-A session with the general fielding questions from Airmen about what was on their minds. The general also asked for everyone's help in focusing on some of his concerns as the senior military leader of an organization with 690,000 total force Airmen serving around the world.
As an example, Welsh challenged everyone to improve communication within the ranks to ensure the right information is getting to those who need it.
"We're looking for ideas on how we can communicate better," he said. "If you have ideas, I'm willing to listen to any suggestions.
“There are Airmen getting frustrated about things before having all the facts. Rumors spread easily," he continued, using force management as a good example. "The leaders who should've been getting answers and information for their Airmen and passing along the facts weren't doing it.
"We will fail if that's how we communicate," Welsh said. "I expect better from you; I expect better from me. We have to work this one together," he said.
Wrapping up his remarks, the chief of staff pressed the point that every Airman should feel important and love what they do for the Air Force. According to Welsh, camaraderie and diversity within the ranks are what makes the Air Force more a family than an organization.
"We haven't quite got to the point where everybody understands that diversity is a strength for our Air Force," Welsh said. "If everybody that wears our uniform or comes to work as a civilian Airman doesn't feel fully empowered to contribute everything they can to the mission, we lose.
"If they don't feel they have a voice in your organizations, we lose. There are people in this audience thinking, 'I don't have a voice, no one cares what I have to say,' and that's wrong," he said. "That's not the Air Force I want to be part of because I know we are so much better than that."
The chief of staff concluded by reminding Airmen to never forget why they wear the uniform and serve.
"I've known most of you for about an hour now, but I'd die for you,” he said. “I'm just naïve enough to believe you'd do the same for me. That is what's cool about wearing this uniform -- calling yourself an Airman, being in a profession of arms, serving your country and doing something that really matters to the nation. Don't forget why we wear the uniform. It's about knowing when it gets really ugly and the clouds all blow past that the guy or gal next to you is still going to be there. That's what this is all about. It's that pride thing -- that's why we serve. That's why I'm so proud to stand beside you."
(Airman Larissa Greatwood contributed to this article)