Commentary

January 9, 2014

Stepping Forward

Commentary by Lt. Col. Chad Nichols
7th Logistics Readiness Squadron

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Recently I came across an interesting quote from Admiral Togo Heihachiro, Commander of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Tsushima in 1905: “If your sword is too short, take one step forward.” Given the environment of reduced budgets, fiscal challenges and potential manpower shortages facing the Air Force, this quote struck me as relevant to how Airmen should approach these challenges. We must attack them with leadership, communication and commitment to mission.

Some may interpret this quote as merely “doing more with less” or “doing the same with less.” Senior leadership has clearly said they do not expect us to “do more with less” so how is this quote relevant today? I would contend stepping forward with a sword that is too short is simply recognizing the importance of the mission and remaining committed to it despite the challenges. It is finding innovative ways to maximize resources, removing waste from processes and most importantly making sure we are all carrying our respective weight as we execute our daily tasks.

We must instill leadership in every Airman as we attack these challenges. That includes clearly communicating expectations for junior enlisted Airmen with respect to exceeding standards in duty performance, living the Air Force core values, and understanding the Air Force culture does not stop at the front gate. Airmen are held to a higher standard on and off duty and we must understand that living to a higher standard is not a burden that hinders us, but rather a welcomed responsibility unique to the profession of arms.

Additionally, we must empower our NCOs, specifically first line supervisors, to consistently hold their assigned Airmen accountable to the standards set by the Enlisted Force Structure and the Air Force core values. Finally, senior NCOs and officers must lead by example, enforce standards and serve the Airmen under their command. The goal is that all Airmen will be empowered to lead their peers and subordinates through any challenge thus ensuring our ability to provide air power now and in the future.

Communication is critical in this process. We must routinely communicate the Air Force core values and the Air Force culture to our peers and subordinates to ensure we do not deviate from standards.

As we experience resource shortfalls, we must communicate those shortfalls to senior leaders to ensure they have a clear understanding of the impacts they have on the mission. However, before we say “we can’t,” we must learn to pursue innovative options and exhaust every resource to execute our daily duties, because despite resource challenges, failure is not an option in ensuring national security.

The old ways of doing business may no longer be applicable and we must be willing to develop new innovative tactics, techniques and procedures. We must start to truly think outside the box and empower all Airmen to be creative and communicate their ideas to improve processes. As the force gets smaller we must understand that every Airman’s contribution has a greater impact on the mission. Conversely, any deviation from standards will have an even greater negative impact on the mission. Therefore, it is imperative that we remain committed to the excellence and give 100 percent each and every day.

The current resource challenges are daunting but they are not impossible to overcome. Attacking these challenges will not be easy; they would not be called challenges if they were. Throughout the history of our service there are many examples of great Airmen overcoming challenges in combat and in peacetime. We must leverage our past successes as we face these challenges. If our swords have been reduced in size during the fight, we must be willing to step forward and attack these challenges with leadership, communication and a commitment to mission.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

The JAG Corps announces law school programs: FLEP, ELP

Applications for the Funded Legal Education Program and Excess Leave Program are being accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2015.  Interested officers are encouraged to compete. The number of FLEP and ELP applicants selected n any academic year is determined based on the needs of the Air Force. “Our Air Force missions are constantly...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez)

Summer burnout

Langley Air Force Base, Va. — Some of the very things we enjoy during the summer can also wear us down. Juggling work, family schedules, vacation times, and outdoor squadron activities can take a toll. The chronic engagem...
 
 

A photojournalist’s perspective of an AFSOUTH mission

There I was lying in bed. My eyes slowly opened and I was instantly irritated, because my alarm hadn’t gone off yet. I hate waking up before I have to. For a moment I forgot where I was. The bed was too comfortable, the room too clean and there was food in the fridge, so...
 

 

Commentary: Strong followers challenge authority

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — It’s not surprising that when I tell subordinates to challenge authority, I often get a look of confusion. Admittedly, this is a step used to provoke thought. Obviously, we don’t need subordinates undermining their leader’s authority. My intent is not to create insubordination — it is to underscore the...
 
 

Understanding sergeant’s words: ‘I’ve got your back’

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) — Seeing the newly selected staff sergeants recently brought back memories of when I was selected for staff sergeant. Actually, my thoughts went to the night I graduated Airman Leadership School. As I crossed the stage after receiving my completion certificate, my co-workers gathered to congratulate me and shake...
 
 

Quality of rituals determines quality of life

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) — Over the last year I’ve been on a quest to identify and highlight simple success strategies that, if followed, will increase career success. Where does one start on the path to becoming successful? Some would say, “habits,” but it goes farther than that. Habits are repeatable actions that...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin