CSAF talks with Guard, Reserve component at Tinker
By Maj. Jon Quinlan, 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 14, 2015
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Over 1,000 Guard and Reserve Airmen had the opportunity to listen to U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark A. Welsh III speak April 11 about key issues affecting the Air Force.
After visiting the active duty and civilian force April 8-10, General Welsh and his wife, Betty, extended their visit to Tinker by half a day so they could meet with the Airmen of the 507th Air Refueling Wing, 513th Air Control Group and Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th ARW during their April Unit Training Assemblies.
Speaking to Oklahoma Air Reserve Component Airmen, the general outlined three things all Airmen need to focus on: common sense, communication and compassion for each other.
"We've got to make sure common sense is the first standard we apply, all the time," General Welsh said. "If you have an instruction, a policy or a tech order that doesn't align with common sense, then all those other things are wrong. Let's change them. And we can. We just gotta think we can."
The general also explained how critical communication is for the force, especially with so many changes in defense being planned and discussed.
"The bottom line is that we have to be able to communicate to each other about what's going on, whether it's about sequestration, whether it's retirement plan recommendations, health care or whatever it may be that's happening," General Welsh said.
The Air Force chief of staff spoke about the importance of Airmen caring more. Airmen already care about their duties, but they need to care more across the board to get the performance that guarantees a war-winning capability, the general said.
"The people in our unit and families that help us do this job, they're the best people on earth," Welsh said. "It's impossible to care too much about them."
Along with his message, the general told the Guard and Reserve audience that his main purpose of the visit was to say thanks.
"Thanks for who you are," General Welsh said. "Thanks for the work you've been doing around the world since the day you walked into our service and thanks for the things you continue to do to make life better for other people."
Guard and Reserve Airmen in the crowd took the opportunity to ask the Air Force's top uniformed leader several questions regarding the future force structure and reliance on the ARC in the future.
The general said the service is close to achieving the right mix between Guard, Reserve and active duty after analytical reviews and changes in the force. With the current resource-constrained environment, the Air Force is looking to move more hardware and, in some cases, people, to the Guard and Reserve.
"When we can be more efficient and keep the same operational responsiveness and capability, why wouldn't we?" General Welsh said. "So the guidance from the beginning has been, whatever we can push to the Reserve component, we're going to do it."
Before the all call, the general and his wife spent time listening to Guard and Reserve Airmen and key spouses personally tell them their individual stories.
"I just had the incredible privilege of sitting with a bunch of Airmen here and learn a little bit about their stories," General Welsh said. "The incredible things that have happened to them, what they've accomplished, make them unique. Everyone in this hangar has a story, and the story is uniquely you. Some of them are uplifting, some of them are sad. Some of them are inspirational. But each one is unique ... so I ask you to please learn the stories."
Airmen overwhelmingly appreciated the opportunity to tell their stories and listen to the message.
"He is truly concerned about the well-being of each and every Airman in the Air Force," said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Johnson, 137th Maintenance Squadron.