Diverse Airmen strengthen Air Force's global presence

  • Published
  • By Gen. Frank Gorenc
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander
A diverse force is our unique advantage to providing forward-based combat power for America.

Diversity of cultures, beliefs and ideas are ever-present in our professional and personal lives. These differences among Airmen make us more effective.

I read a January Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa article about an Airman who exemplifies perseverance and resiliency and highlights the power of diversity.

Staff Sgt. Deng Pour is a religious affairs NCO who grew up in Sudan. As a child, he was surrounded by violence, but escaped on foot at the age of 5 to Ethiopia. For three months he ran from troops and bombs and survived by eating grass and mud.

Three years later, he returned to Sudan, but was subsequently sent to a refugee camp in northern Kenya. At the age of 16 he came to the U.S. and lived with his aunt.

In 2006, an Air Force recruiter traveled three hours to meet Sergeant Pour at his home in Minnesota and helped him transition into the military. Whether the recruiter knew it or not, the sergeant would become a unique asset during a deployment to Africa.

Now at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Sergeant Pour's personal experiences and knowledge of the region are a valuable advantage to the joint team. He is helping task force leadership understand customs and traditions of our partners in the region. Sergeant Pour offers a unique cultural bridge that a native American Airman cannot provide, and as the Air Forces Africa commander, I am thankful he joined the Air Force and is there serving.

You can read the full story at http://www.hoa.africom.mil/Story/7840/true-resilience-one-manrsquos-journey-from-south-sudan-to-american-airman

Airmen from different cultures and backgrounds offer perspectives and solutions to challenges that may otherwise be overlooked.

Like Sergeant Pour, I am a naturalized American citizen, and from experience, I can tell you embracing diversity will help us remain the world's greatest Air Force.

I encourage you to embrace diversity, which is critical to solving complex global problems. It is a cornerstone to the Air Force's success. Continue to take advantage of the skills and talents of all Airmen. Remember our Air Force Vision: The world's greatest Air Force... powered by Airmen, fueled by innovation. Embracing diversity will help us achieve our vision!