Commentary

March 7, 2014

Drawdowns make communication vital

Chief Master Sgt. MICHAEL BROWN
56th Operations Group

In 1991, I departed Saudi Arabia post Operation Desert Storm. At the time I couldn’t imagine the day I would return to King Abdul Aziz Airport in Dhahran, also known as the “Kingdom,” but 23 years later I have returned.

From the control tower here, I could look out over the massive equipment yards all around the airfield and see the most incredible compilation of military power assembled in one place. There was military hardware lined up for miles waiting to be shipped home. We, as a military, had come together to protect the Middle East from the Iraqi forces led by Saddam Hussein, and to safeguard our ally and the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.

A lot has changed since then. But as I prepare to leave Saudi Arabia, probably for the last time, I find myself reflecting on those changes and on some of the similarities between then and now.

In 1991, we were a force of 510,000 Airmen. By 1992, we had reduced our active-duty force by 40,000 and within five years we had removed 120,000 from our ranks. Personally, as I saw my friends departing the force, I was worried. There were concerns all around us that drawing down our forces so quickly would limit what we could accomplish in the future. What if we needed to come back to finish the job?

There were also concerns for our friends and how they would survive the transition to the civilian world. There is a stark similarity to what is occurring in our Air Force today. The retrograde yards that were in Saudi Arabia are now in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and once again our Air Force leadership is asking us to downsize our forces.

One thing that has not changed is the need for communication. I was a buck sergeant in 1991 and had tested for staff sergeant prior to deploying to Saudi Arabia. The results came out while I was in Dhahran. After I could not find my name in one of the two giant printed books the selects were listed in, I decided to call back to home station to find out by how many points I had missed promotion. I spoke with a master sergeant in a leadership position who, after saying my name out loud for a few seconds asked me, “When specifically did you get out of the Air Force?” I was mortified that I had been forgotten after only being gone for a few months, and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

Today, things are different. The ability to communicate with our deployed Airmen is better than ever. Nearly all of our Airmen can be reached either at work or via social media. From the offices back home, we can for the most part dial directly to and talk clearly with our deployers. I am fortunate and hear from my leadership regularly, but not all Airmen are so fortunate. Many are still waiting for a reassuring call that they will be taken care of during the execution of the force management programs. Most who did receive a call would certainly appreciate a second one.

A lot has changed since 1991, but much remains the same. I will return home in a few weeks, and my wife will greet me at the airport. After some time off I will return to work and there will be some new faces, some familiar faces and some will be missing. If we handle the force management programs correctly, the fears of the drawdown will be minimized. If we communicate with our Airmen, their trust in us as leaders will be strengthened.




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


 
 

 

Luke welcomes Nurse Advice Line

Remember that moment? The moment you thought you had something medically wrong with you but didn’t know exactly what it was? After a few Web searches, you find yourself on WebMD and are questioning whether you have the least worrying of possible diagnoses or the worst — cancer or even death. To help patients save...
 
 
141020-SMSgt-Shelly-Bailey-8x10-DW

Path to inspirational leadership evolving skillset

Senior Master Sgt. Shelly Bailey At some point in our Air Force career we will assume a leadership role. Leadership is an ever-evolving skillset that you will continue to develop throughout the course of your career. The highes...
 
 

Bridges: build, don’t burn

Have you heard the phrase “don’t burn your bridges?” This idiom is used to describe the importance of not ending a relationship on a bad note. In this case, the relationship is your military career. For example, when you build professional relationships you are networking or laying the foundation for the building of a bridge....
 

 
141008-F-HT977-005

Unaccompanied housing to be upgraded

Funds have arrived from Air Education and Training Command for unaccompanied housing to use to take care of Airmen in the dorms, from reconstruction of dorms to fixing a door knob. “With these funds we are able to maintain do...
 
 

News Briefs October 24, 2014

Notice to claimants In accordance with Air Force Instruction 34-511, paragraph 3.1.5, notice is hereby given that Airman 1st Class Wheeler Nichols is deceased. The undersigned has been appointed summary court officer for the purpose of estate settlement in accordance with AFI 34-511. All persons having claims for or against the estate should call Lt....
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

New honorary commanders inducted

Senior Airman Grace Lee Honorary commanders chat with Luke Air Force Base leaders Oct. 17 during social hour in Hangar 431 at Luke Air Force Base prior to their official induction ceremony. The honorary commander program partne...
 




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