Danger Sign

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Horn
  • Command Chief of Air University, Air Education and Training Command
What makes our Air Force enlisted corps the best on the planet? I would argue it's the training, education and level of assigned responsibility. The last piece, of course, could not happen without the first two.

I believe we inherently embrace this truth across our Air Force. Yet, in a well-meaning attempt to take care of our Airmen, we have mistakenly allowed language to creep into our vocabulary that couches training and education as additive rather than integral to an Airman's list of daily responsibilities. Such language should strike any forward-thinking Airman as a bright yellow danger sign warning us of misplaced priorities. The recently released Air Force strategy: "America's Air Force: A Call to the Future," clearly states our driving purpose: "to ensure the Air Force can always provide responsive and effective Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power." In a word: readiness. That means while our day-to-day mission is critically important, it is readiness that should drive our priorities.

That readiness requires training and education.

Perhaps it may be helpful to clarify the meaning of a phrase I've heard uttered around the halls of the Pentagon: Airmen's Time. Some have mistakenly inferred that "Airmen's Time" refers to anything other than the day-to-day core mission. This could not be further from the truth. I would offer the following definition: Airmen's Time is simply a term used to ensure we respect that finite resource we all value so much...time. It is the workload and set of responsibilities we assign each Airman, and it is incumbent upon all of us in supervisory and leadership positions to do our best to filter these tasks to only those that are value-added. The imperfections and complexities of life will inevitably keep us from being perfect in this endeavor, but we owe it to our Airmen to do the best we can.

Having said that, training and education are integral to Airmen's Time...not additive. While payoffs, especially for education, may be realized in the future and are sometimes hard to measure in concrete terms, they are nonetheless very real. They help make us innovative Airmen.

In the Air Force vision: "The World's Greatest Air Force: Powered by Airmen, Fueled by Innovation," our Chief of Staff underscored the importance of these force enablers. Simply stated, "Education and training are the foundation of our airpower advantage." Furthermore, he stipulated that all of us "...have a role in ensuring that we remain the most technically proficient, best-educated, and best-trained air force in the world."

We absolutely cannot meet this mandate by taking a passive role in the process.

I hope when you hear someone refer to training or education as additive, your ears perk up and you see that big yellow danger sign. As Airmen, we must demand that training and education are integral to every Airman's basic responsibilities; we must fold that sentiment into our very culture. Your bold leadership will ensure our success. Airpower!