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Commentary: Maintaining a legacy

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Commanders are often asked how they see their mission from a top-down perspective. These questions give a context of mission priorities and objectives that are understood at every level. The answers we give communicate where we believe our personnel should focus their best efforts, as well as to invest their individual hopes for wisdom achieved and expectations of leadership developed. 


What matters to the 513th Air Control Group's maintenance community at this time?

Reinvestment in human capital is essential and we need to continue to refine our maintenance core competencies. The Airman today will be the Noncommissioned Officer tomorrow, and the NCO will be a Senior NCO further down the line.


A maintenance community's daily goal is to build leaders and aircraft. Shop supervisors will become leaders of flights and builders of teams. How you get there as an individual depends on how much you enrich the community. When you do, your investment is repaid a hundred times over. Invest now to enjoy the rewards later.


Where do you see the maintainers going forward? 

First, regarding our maintenance core competencies and pedigree: In the beginning, our maintainers were operators. We are inextricably linked to a single purpose then and now. Our commitment to flying is steeped in history, but our core competencies (as maintainers) have changed over time. We have innovated to overcome, we have become the change our nation demanded. Change brings opportunity to refocus on essential practice. This is an exciting time for innovation, as our institution has signaled; time, resources and money are truly finite. We have been asked, yet again, "Maintainers, how do we get there from here?" Maintainers have always answered with a way.


In order to be forward thinking, we must commit to reinvesting in human capital. There is no asset that takes precedence over our Airmen – not their value, their dignity, respect or their selfless contributions to the cause. I stayed because I had supervisors, leaders and mentors that stoked the flames of my creativity and imagination. They turned every airplane into an official canvas for me to paint on and my job became my Air Force. I became a part of this canvas and then it became a part of me. It is time to relentlessly insist to our Airmen who they are and what they mean to our nation and invest in those Airmen who continue to shape our future. 


What am most proud of?

I feed off of energy and I try to share, too. Anyone who knows me can confirm my enthusiasm for this job and my team. Just for a moment, I want to brag on our maintainers. You tell me, where can you find an individual eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in the rain, after 13 hours on the job but still smiling and joking? Our maintainers are the heartbeat and the pulse of morale, welfare and discipline. It has always been a necessity for our maintenance unit to lift its spirits with teamwork and genuine humor. I am proud that these Air Force stalwarts let me share in their experience. 


Often, I see maintainers and Airmen who are asked, "Can we do that task? Do we have the manpower and resources?" I would challenge everyone to answer with, "Sir/Ma'am, yes, but this is the empirical cost." Respectfully tell your boss what they need to hear to ensure capability; not what you may think they "want" to hear. Always pass leaders the straightest arrow in your quiver so your boss' aim can be truer.


I appreciate everything you Airmen bring to the fight. It is never lost who does all the heavy lifting. Thank you for being the best.