by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
2/6/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- "I
really believe if you are an Air Force and you recruit the best people
in the country, which we do, and you train them better than anyone else
and you put them with people who make them proud of what they do, how
well they do it and what they represent, then you get a performance you
can never get any other way," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A.
Welsh III. "The formula is simple, people plus pride equals
The general and his wife, Betty, visited JBLM Jan. 31 to Feb. 4 to thank
Airmen and their families for their service and address current Air
Force challenges, and along the way had a chance to witness the people,
pride and performance that make up Team McChord.
"It is really helpful for us to get out and see what you are all doing
and how you are doing it. To talk to the Airmen and to get an idea of
what concerns you have," Welsh said.
During their visit, they learned about everything from JBLM's joint
basing structure and the collaboration with Ft. Lewis, the Total Force
partnerships, the prime nuclear airlift force to the base's continuing
effort to ensure a culture of dignity and respect.
The highlight of the day came when more than 1,800 Airmen, civilians and
spouses came together in Hangar 3 to listen to Welsh share his thoughts
and answer questions from the audience.
Welsh started his All Call off by thanking not only his wife for all her
support throughout his career, but all family members who support the
Air Force. And of course, he brought a huge message of appreciation for
the members of Team McChord and the capability they provide in defense
of the nation.
"We have talked to everybody that our Airmen serve around the world,
every combatant commander, people in other countries, our allies and our
coalition partners and let me tell you what they say about you," Welsh
said. "They say that you guys rock; they love what you do and they love
how well you do it, they want more of our mission and they want more of
you. So I want to say 'thanks' for how well you represent our Air Force,
our country, your own unit and each other because you really should be
proud of how you do that job."
He went on to apologize to civilians for a rough 2013 -- for furloughs,
for government shutdown - and thanked them for their dedication and hard
work. He reminded those in attendance of the importance of civilian
Airmen and recognized Danny Pope, a 62nd Airlift Wing maintenance
squadron member, who's been at McChord for more than 40 years.
"Danny is a behind the scenes civilian who makes things work and for the
last four decades he has been taking care of you and the base," Welsh
said. "He is the fabric of our Air Force, he is the kind of guy you want
to go to work with and someone I would consider the world's best
The general than went on to remind the audience the importance of every single Airman.
"I don't care how long you have been in, how many stripes you have or
how many jobs you get, when you are a supervisor you need to tell other
Airmen how important they are while at the same time remembering that
you are the most important person in the Air Force and you deserve to be
treated that way," he said. "Everybody in this room has a role to play
in our Air Force, it is a critically important role and the sooner we
remind ourselves that each of us is critically important, we will treat
each other and better take care of each other."
The general went on to discuss how important it is for all of us to
think about that because the bottom line for us is performance. He
stated our job is to fight and win wars but we are smart enough to know
if we don't take care of our people we won't get the performance
required to do that.
Welsh went on to discuss what he considers the keys to success going forward - common sense, communication and caring.
"We have to realize that if our AFI's, policy letters and rules we are
following do not align with common sense, then they are wrong. We have
to change that and you can start right here," Welsh said.
The second key he discussed was "being better communicators."
He asked if anyone knew the reason why tuition assistance was cut-off
last year and only one person out of the more than 1,800 raised their
"We have to fix this as an Air Force and we have to get better at this,"
said Welsh. "Our people deserve answers and we are trying to share them
but they are just not getting to you. If you can let me know what
works, then I will let you know we will try it."
His final key to success for the Air Force future is caring, "we have to care more."
"I have already told you I am working with the best people on earth and
you have the best families supporting you but even with that support we
will never care about each other enough," Welsh said.
He went on to mention the many challenges facing the Air Force right now, from force management to sexual harassment.
"I believe the only solution to those things is not another Air Force
program... it is caring more about each other," said Welsh. "It's
understanding who the person next to you really is, what they think, how
they feel, what affects them and how you can impact their life in a
"If you don't know the story of your Airmen, you can't lead them. It is
really simple; learn their stories as the more we know about each other,
the better we can take care of each other," he said. "The better we
take care of each other, the less of all this other stuff we deal with
and the more we focus on our job. That's who we are and that's the Air
Force we want to be."
For more information on the general or Mrs. Welsh, check out the following resources: