Airmen Should Communicate AF Story and Priorities

  • Published
  • By Colonel Douglas E. Troyer
In August 2006, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne sent a Letter to Airmen entitled, "Every Airman a Communicator." In this letter, Secretary Wynne expressed how important it is for every Airman to be able to tell the Air Force story. He said, "Your active involvement in this communications strategy will help the public better understand their Air Force and the contribution we make to the nation's security every day." Certainly, it is next to impossible for most Airman to become conversant on every issue facing the Air Force. However, there are a number of consistent messages our senior leaders spread; being familiar with these messages will help us all become more effective as we fill our roles as Airmen communicators. 

The message I want to focus on today involves how our senior leaders are currently discussing the priorities of the Air Force. As the Air Force secretary and chief see it, there are three overarching Air Force priorities: Winning the Global War on Terror, Developing Airmen, and Recapitalization and Modernization. Each priority is obviously far reaching, but simple in concept and easily communicated. 

The service's first priority is Winning the Global War on Terror. It is important for us to remember and effectively communicate that the Air Force is a vital part of the Global War on Terror. We are engaged in all corners of the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Whether serving as convoy escorts in Iraq, controlling Predator missions from the United States or working in the Horn of Africa to prevent the rise of terrorist sanctuaries, our Airmen are constantly tasked with new and unfamiliar roles and missions and are stepping up to make the difficult look easy. 

Developing Airman as an Air Force priority speaks to the commitment the service places on its human capital. The service is transforming the way it trains our Airmen in order to focus on the skills required to deal with the defense environment we now face - from extending basic training in order to incorporate combat skills training for all new Airmen to requiring foreign language and regional studies training in our senior enlisted and officer professional military education courses. Of course, the service always fights to ensure our quality of life remains the envy of the other services. The Air Force has long appreciated the fact that its most important asset is its people, whether active duty, reserve, guard or civilian employees and it continues to make the commitment to ensure they are trained and equipped to carry out our assigned mission. 

The third Air Force priority is Recapitalization and Modernization of our equipment. The average age of our aircraft is approaching 24 years, the oldest in our service's history. The average age of our satellites is approaching nine years, most of which were designed for a five to 10 year service life. As a service that always thrived by remaining on the cutting edge of technology, we must make the investment now to retire equipment exceeding its service life and procure the latest in modern technology. There are two answers for those who ask why we need to spend so much money to modernize when we have done so well with the equipment we have. First, older equipment becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain, which drains scarce monetary and human resources. Second, the technology found in most of our current inventory is now met or exceeded by our competitors. The reason we have been so successful in the past is that our technological edge acted as a force multiplier. We must continue to remain on the leading edge of technology in order to ensure our global dominance of air, space and cyberspace in the future. 

As the secretary said, "Our Air Force is counting on you to communicate your story like no one else can." Being able to communicate what the Air Forces' priorities are and being able to use examples from your current job to illustrate how they apply is one way we can let our nation know how the Air Force is contributing to maintain our way of life.