Airmen, we have an opportunity...

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Norman West
  • 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander
"Airmen, we have an opportunity..." 

My Airmen know that these five simple words often mean more work for them. The fact they readily accept the challenge is what sets them apart and makes a difference in our Air Force. 

We are all faced with daily obstacles and demands made upon us, stretched thin in both resources and manpower, and often are seduced by the temptation to just say "no". That, I would argue, is the easy answer. Our Airmen are too skilled, too smart, and too strong for the path of least resistance...to settle for mediocrity. 

When faced with a demanding task, convenient excuses often come to mind..."It's not my responsibility", "We've never done that before," or "I just don't have the time." When we all know that we could take responsibility, set a new path, or make the time. 

Recently, in my own squadron, we were faced with a challenge that was not our responsibility. What a great opportunity, I thought. This was a problem we could solve for the 18th Wing; benefiting not only Pacific Command but also the Department of Defense and Government of Japan. 

Therefore, I challenged my Airmen to make it happen. They had the right training, were highly motivated, and possessed the desire to succeed but, more importantly, they knew why they must succeed. I feel strongly that we all play for the same team and we have a duty to support our fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen regardless of military service. 

You already have the tools in your arsenal to make this happen. Everyday I am awed and humbled by the caliber of the Airmen with whom I serve. They are intelligent and dedicated professionals. Your commitment does not go unnoticed. 

When faced with a question you don't know the answer to, find the answer instead of saying "I don't know." When challenged to work outside your area of responsibility, view it as a great opportunity to expand your breadth and depth of knowledge. And, when those young service members in a different color uniform ask for your assistance, step up and meet that challenge head-on. 

As cool as the tools are in our toolbox, it is our people that open the lid. We cannot remain closed off from our fellow service members and hoard all the best resources. As our mother's taught us, we really do need to share with our friends. We are operating in an era of joint military missions and multi-national alliances with global implications. Today I challenge you to take the skills you already possess and make great things happen in your squadron, group, wing, and Air Force. Airmen, we have an opportunity.