Air Force values mold commanders success

  • Published
  • By Colonel Don Richardson Jr.
  • 984th Combat Sustainment Group
The Air Force has provided me with opportunities and numerous levels of responsibility which I could not have experienced anywhere else.

I am one of those people who came into the military because I felt the calling, to serve my country. For those of you who have experienced "the calling" you know what I mean, for those of you who haven't, you've missed one heck of a feeling. I began my military journey when I enlisted in the Marine Corps. The best advice my boss at the time gave me was to finish college and get a commission. I did just that and after being commissioned my first assignment was as a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistics Missile launch officer. Talk about responsibility and accountability, our four-person crew averaged 20 years of age and were accountable for keeping that nine megaton weapon on alert and accountable for being combat ready.

I then cross trained into aircraft maintenance, which allowed me to experience leadership and technical opportunities I could not have gotten anywhere else. I have to give credit to the great training opportunities Air Education and Training Command provided me. However, my best teachers were the many maintainers and logisticians who gave their time to answer my many questions and explain the art of their profession. Of great value to me also was the fact that I studied the qualities of the numerous senior noncommissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, Airman, officers and civilians that crossed my path. I collected their best qualities and incorporated them to continually forge my leadership style.

Paramount to my success was the foundation of the Air Force Core Values: Integrity, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, which served my leadership style and work ethic of the people in my units. There is no compromise for integrity in any person or unit as it is in my opinion that this core value allows our Air Force to be the strongest, most lethal and respected Air Force in the world today. It is the integrity within us all that allows us the opportunity to excel in our career specialties, whether we are military or civilian, machinist or program manager, crew chief or administrator.

We are all leaders in our own right. We are leaders in every grade and rank and every job specialty. A director or commander cannot be successful on their leadership alone, they rely on the leadership qualities of everyone in the unit. Today's Air Force environment is the most challenging to us all as we experience reductions in people and funding, our deployment operations tempo continues to remain high and the requirements of our weapon systems and people increases.

The level of leadership displayed on Hill Air Force Base is tremendous. Off the job, we have young Airmen and civilians showing their leadership everyday as they volunteer hundreds of hours of their free time to assist families of our deployed, tutoring children in need, caring for the homeless, etc. On the job and across the board, the many metrics we manage are the best they have ever been. Our mission will always come first, however we must be sensitive to and care for the needs of our people.

As Lau-tzu said regarding leadership: "A leader is best when people barely know he exists. And when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."