• Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Thompson
  • 56th Medical Group
As I reflect on almost 25 years of military service, I find it easy to remember my assignments, multiple jobs and duties I have performed. I have served on four continents and served four different presidents. Within that same time period, our nation has been in numerous campaigns ranging from Operations Desert Storm to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. I have seen at least four major uniform changes, several force reduction initiatives and performed the mission alongside members from all five branches of service. Despite all the policy changes and paradigm shifts, one thing remained constant and has kept us the greatest fighting force on earth: our people.

Some would look at the technological advances that have taken place and say that makes us the world's best Air Force. Whether it be state of the art weapons or computer systems, none of this is possible without dedicated, hardworking, intelligent people. As we continue to draw down and streamline our military manpower, let us not forget those Airmen, both uniformed and civilian who continue to support the mission every day. As leaders, we need to continue to develop and empower our members professionally and stress personal growth. Though our manpower will get smaller, the challenges we face as a military world power definitely will not. The support and effort you show will be critical as we navigate future engagements.

As our budget decreases and resources minimize, it is important that we take the time to listen to those with ideas, regardless of rank or status. In these times when we are asked to do more with less, instilling an ongoing commitment to innovation within our people will be paramount to our success as an Air Force. We cannot afford to have voices muted and people left on the bench. We need quality people doing quality work and everybody in the game.

Whether you are an officer, enlisted or civilian, we should make every effort to take care of ourselves so we can mentor and take care of our people. Making sure people are taken care of and prepared is the greatest force multiplier we can employ in keeping our Air Force ready for any mission.

We live in a world of constant change where military conflicts are unfortunately inevitable. I am 100 percent confident that it will be the key to keeping us the most highly skilled, professional and, undeniably, the world's best Air Force.  Always remember, "People take care of the mission, not the other way around." That is why people are the Air Force's greatest asset.