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Taking care of our people

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force has been very consistent in staying focused on three priorities: win today's fight, take care of our people and prepare for tomorrow's challenges.

Most of us get the first and third priorities...win today's fight. Our priority is to win the Global War on Terror, and prepare for tomorrow's challenge...making sure our Air Force is relevant, capable and sustainable. It's the second priority, take care of our people, which I want to focus on.

It's been my experience as the command chief that this seems to be the priority that most folks have a hard time understanding. What does it mean to take care of our Airmen? Let me start by giving you a few non-examples of what it means and then describe how I think we can take care of our Airmen.

Taking care of our Airmen is not making sure they have a towel and a personal locker in the gym. It's not making sure the Shoppette is open 24 hours a day, or making sure that AAFES has every single item 20 percent cheaper than every competitor.

This one is the best, and I hear it often: taking care of our Airmen does not mean every Airmen gets a PCS decoration or that we give every Airmen a 5 on their EPR - "because we don't want to hurt their career."

To be sure, Airmen are our most valuable resource. Taking care of Airmen means we do everything possible to make sure they are trained and equipped to do the job and accomplish their mission. This process starts with the supervisor. They must set the example, establish the standards, and make sure their Airmen have the equipment needed.

Taking care of our Airmen means we identify future leaders, and provide them the developmental opportunities that prepare them for increased responsibility. It means we instill in them a warrior ethos, and that they understand the importance of living by a set of core values. It means recognizing the very best and it means having the courage to tell an Airman they are average and how they can improve.

Taking care of Airmen means we take seriously the preservation of the high quality of life standards that has made the Air Force a great place to live and work. It means taking care of our families to insure they have a safe place to live with decent quarters, quality child care, and valued MWR programs and facilities.

The Air Force is serious about taking care of our Airmen and so am I. This is a great organization to be a part of and I'm proud to serve. If you have ideas on how we can take care of our Airmen and their families, I solicit your thoughts and ideas. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend and above all...have a great Air Force Day! Go Sharks!