USAFE Airmen embrace command priorities

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- I recently returned from visiting U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases in the United Kingdom, and I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that USAFE is the best command in the Air Force! I'm so proud of the accomplishments I see and thankful for the sacrifices each of you make every day for the mission, both at home station and in support of global operations. In spite of the challenges we've faced recently as an Air Force, USAFE Airmen are dutifully carrying on a proud legacy of excellence. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you to stay focused on the mission and our Air Force and command priorities.

During my base visits I interacted with Airmen and noncommissioned officers who reaffirmed to me why we're "Winning Today's Fight." On any given day there are more than 2,500 USAFE Airmen deployed in support of the Global War on Terror, while continuing to perform vital home-station missions. You have embraced Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century by finding ways to streamline processes and maintain mission capabilities. Perfect examples of that are Senior Master Sgt. Ray Boone, Tech Sgt. Anthony Nardone and Tech Sgt. Jonathon Anlauf, from the 100th Air Refueling Wing's AFSO 21 office at RAF Mildenhall, who have taken "Smart Operations" to the next level. They're doing phenomenal things to help the 100th ARW continue to Win Today's Fight. They demonstrate the initiative and creativity it takes to make sure that we're ready for what lies ahead.

In order to continue our winning ways, we need to "Prepare for Tomorrow's Challenges." From what I've seen, USAFE Airmen are working hard to ensure they are prepared both physically and mentally to meet the demands of the mission. That's why it's so important to continue to work at being "Fit to Fight." We need each of you to be ready to perform at the highest level, here at home and in the AOR. The bottom line is that it's all about being mission ready.

To be ready for the future, we must understand our heritage. On June 29 we commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. The Berlin Airlift established airpower as a vital part of our military might, and we continue that legacy to this day. The Airmen from RAF Lakenheath understand that well. Airmen 1st Class Jacob Whitehead and Steven Bergland, who are both assigned to the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, created an enlisted Heritage Room in their squadron, and they built it all with funds raised from their snack bar. Their legacy will live on in their squadron and serve to remind others of the sacrifices made by enlisted Airman in service to their nation, and the awesome might of airpower.

And that brings us to our third priority - "Take Care of Our People." This is a priority that's very near and dear to my heart, especially since it's such a big part of my job as USAFE command chief. From uniform issues and educational opportunities, to family care and the sponsorship program, it's our goal to take care of you as well as you take care of the mission.

During my enlisted calls at UK bases, you raised issues that concerned you, like the new Airman Battle Uniform. I can assure you that your complaints have been heard and that changes are coming. You also brought up dormitory issues that need to be addressed, and I know that all levels of leadership share your concerns and they're doing all they can to maintain a high standard of living for all Air Force members. However, don't just assume that leadership is aware of problems. Inform your chain of command and your first sergeants when you run into a problem, and give them the opportunity to work the issue.

It's a leadership responsibility to take care of people, but it's also your responsibility to take care of each other - be a good wingman, like Staff Sgt. Edgar Acosta, from RAF Croughton's 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron. He used a personal tragedy to inspire him to breathe new life into Croughton's Airmen Against Drunk Driving program, and it's now a model for other bases to emulate.
Being a good wingman also means doing your part to prevent sexual assaults and other violent crimes against one another. If something doesn't look right, don't look the other way - stand up for what's right. What if that person was your mother, father, sister, brother or child?

Finally, we have professional organizations that share our goal of taking care of people. Get involved in your military community, like Tech. Sgt. Ken Gentner, from RAF Alconbury's 423rd Security Forces Squadron. He's a passionate spokesman for the Air Force Sergeants Association. Organizations like AFSA look out for the best interests of enlisted Airmen - get involved!

There is no nobler profession than the one we've chosen and each of you should be proud of what you do. The Air Force is the most respected air and space force on the planet because of your mission focus and constant pursuit of excellence. I'm proud to stand with you and say, WE Are American Airmen!