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The Enlisted Perspective: Developing and Caring for Airmen

WASHINGTON -- There is no greater honor than to serve our country during time of war, and we are very fortunate to serve in the greatest Air Force the world has ever known. 

The Air Force has technologically superior aircraft and equipment and can bring devastating airpower to bear on our enemies at a time and place of our choosing. However, our equipment isn't what makes our Air Force great - it's our people - our Airmen. 

Whether they are active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilian or contactor, our people make the Air Force successful, respected, and feared by our enemies. Throughout Air Force history, our success stems from our legacy of developing and caring for Airmen.

Developing Airmen begins at the Air Force recruiter's office, and our recruiters do an outstanding job of finding the very best. Despite our high recruiting standards, the Air Force continues to attract the best and brightest America has to offer. 

During basic military training, military training instructors do an outstanding job of instilling Warrior Ethos, Air Force Core Values, standards and discipline into new recruits. 

Airmen leave BMT with a fire in their bellies and are motivated, physically fit and recite the Airman's Creed with ease. Our job as leaders is to keep this Warrior Ethos alive in our Airmen - refining their fire and spirit as we continue to foster their development.

Unfortunately, there are some Airmen who arrive at their first duty station who have little or no contact with their supervisor for weeks. I have seen some Airmen discharged because of disciplinary problems that occur not long after signing into their first base. 

An enormous amount of time, money and training goes into our Airmen, so we certainly don't want these Airmen to fail. Developing Airmen isn't a catch phrase and it's not something that stops with BMT or technical training - it's a continual process throughout an Airman's career.

For Airmen to be successful, supervisors must be involved from the start. I strongly believe supervisors should be the sponsors for our Airmen. 

During their initial contacts, supervisors must emphasize the Air Force Core Values, standards, and deliver key guidance to put Airmen on the path to a rewarding and productive career. No one should be more concerned with an Airman's success than their supervisor. If supervisors are more engaged from the beginning, Airmen will have greater prospects for success.

Mighty militaries of the past, from the Continental Army, to the Airmen who courageously flew missions in World War II, to today's Airmen fighting the Global War on Terrorism, all have a common thread for their longstanding successes - adherence to standards and discipline. 

These principles are critical to developing and caring for our Airmen. Our Airmen are incredible, and they need and deserve solid leadership from day one. Develop and care for your Airmen ... we need them to succeed!