CSAF thanks air commandos, listens to concerns in visit to Cannon
By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 20, 2015
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III visited the 27th Special Operations Wing to connect with wing leaders and engage with air commandos during an Airman’s call attended by roughly 1,200 Airmen and community leaders Nov. 17.
During the visit, Welsh updated Airmen on pressing issues facing the force, spoke on successes and challenges associated with being America’s Airmen, and expressed his gratitude to those in attendance.
“Thank you all for being here today and more importantly, thanks for what you do,” Welsh said. “That is the real reason I’m here, just to say thank you for everything that you have done from the day you came into this service. This community has borne an incredible load for the last 15 years, and some of you long before that. The work you do is absolutely sensational.”
Welsh was joined by his wife, Betty, who met with key spouses from the wing, as well as representatives from Cannon’s various helping agencies, during a resiliency roundtable. Those in attendance had the opportunity to discuss quality of life resources and Air Force hot topics such as Preservation of the Force and Family initiatives, suicide prevention and outreach, and many others.
Throughout the visit, it was apparent the long-term sustainment and advancement of the Air Force family was the topic of the day. Further emphasizing this point, Gen. Welsh expanded on his tried and true three C’s: common sense, communication and caring.
Welsh explained that the consistent application of common sense often leads to innovation, individual investment in an organization, and the evolution of a stronger force.
“We have to make sure common sense is the first standard we apply,” he said. “Where we have a law, a policy, a directive or local guidance that does not align with common sense, we have to change it. If you are a supervisor or a commander and your people are doing something that does not make the mission better, or does not take better care of them, their families or their careers, you should stop doing it. I’ll help you figure out how.”
Welsh also charged air commandos to care more, explaining that if something were wrong with a close friend, that irregularity would be recognized immediately. He questioned why the same couldn’t be said of supervisors and their teams. He implored Airmen to care for one another as if they were brothers and sisters belonging to the same diverse family.
“You are the greatest people on Earth,” Welsh said. “But we have people inside our Air Force who are struggling. Some of them do not feel respected in their own workplace; some of them do not feel like they have a voice; some of them are being harassed and discriminated against, and some of them are being assaulted. They are here, and we have to make sure that does not happen in our Air Force. Not everybody is guilty of it, but everybody is part of the solution.”
The all call included a question and answer session with the general, who fielded questions from Airmen about everything from foreign policy to the future of the remotely piloted aircraft community. Welsh also stressed the importance of opening the lines of communication between leader and subordinate to facilitate the trust and dedication that keeps the force strong.
Using the 2013 suspension of military tuition assistance to illustrate his point, Welsh explained how the disappointment that resonated throughout the enlisted force could have been quashed in a single conversation between leaders and their Airmen.
“All those Airmen who were frustrated never found out why,” Welsh said. “We don’t communicate well. It’s hard in a big organization, but I will tell you this: the answer is not in some other forum. It is not in social media; it is not in the press; it is in the chain of command. It is the only place you are going to get all the facts. Airmen, hold your supervisors accountable. Hold your leadership accountable, and I promise you I will hold your wing commanders accountable. We have to get back to accountable, professional communication.”
Wrapping up his remarks, the chief of staff reminded Airmen never to forget why they wear the uniform and serve.
“I would die for you,” Welsh said. “And you would do the same for me. That is what makes us different. That is why you raised your right hand. That is why you wear a uniform. That is why you fight -- because it matters. You stand for something, something that makes a difference. That is why I love you. Thanks for who you are; thanks for what you do. Take care of each other.”