As numbers shrink, AF can do more with better

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Saunders
  • First Term Airman Center
I am happy to say that over the past eight years I have served in the world's greatest Air Force. I attribute that accolade without hesitation as I think about why it is true.

New recruits go to basic military training shedding a lot of whom they are to become disciplined Airmen. Next, most spend several months in technical training to become proficient Airmen in their Air Force specialty code. Then they go to their first duty station and begin honing their new skills. Subsequently, the Air Force is full of great engineers, mechanics, medics, etc., but alone that is not what embodies the greatness of the Air Force.

This is the world's greatest Air Force because it has the world's greatest Airmen and we are always improving. Supervisors keep in mind that as they mentor and train their subordinates, they are not training them to be "good enough" to perform their task. They are developing them to accomplish the mission better than themselves and the process continues as the subordinate becomes the leader.

When I came into the Air Force, and sometimes even today Airmen mention the need to do more with less. The size of the military has been shrinking in numbers but the mission must go on. Air Force Continuous Process Improvement, once known as Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, emphasized that as we downsize in material and manpower in some areas, we can be more efficient with what we have. Despite the youth of this program officially, its philosophy seems to be have been the practice for Airmen all along.

Although, my tenure as the First Term Airman Center leader has been brief, it has been very fulfilling. I have seen so many Airmen completely motivated, still fresh from formal training and ready to take on as much as will be thrown their way. While FTAC introduces the concepts of networking and mentorship, I remember back when I was an airman first class. Neither of those concepts were a part of my vocabulary. Although the gravity of mentors and networks will develop further in their careers and as their leadership skills grow, at least now it will be as common during conversations as career progression.

John C. Maxwell tells us that "leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others." Let's remember that it's not just about us doing more with less, but training, organizing and equipping our Airmen, so that the Air Force can do more with better.