by Ed Shannon
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
2/28/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- "No
commander will ignore competence," the commander of the Air Mobility
Command's only Numbered Air Force told the command's public affairs
Lt. Gen. Darren W. McDew, 18th Air Force commander and former Director
of Public Affairs for the Air Force, shared his perspectives about the
future of the Air Force, the importance of communication, and effective
leadership to more than two dozen participant s during a 45-minute
Defense Connect Online video call.
"You've got to establish your competence," said McDew, who added that
demonstrating value to leaders represents one of the best ways to do
that. "Sit down at your desk. Think through the boss' problem sets, and
solve them before they even know they need to be solved," he said.
McDew peppered the discussion with personal anecdotes reflecting the
importance of seeking and capitalizing on the opportunities that life
presents. Maj. Michael Meridith, who serves as McDew's public affairs
officer, said the general's comments reflect a philosophy that places a
premium on "bold, innovative" approaches to life's challenges.
"One of the things that those who participated appreciated - and
something those of us who have the opportunity to work for Lieutenant
General McDew certainly do appreciate - is the broad perspective he
brings," Meridith said. "In him, you have a military leader whose
diverse experiences fuel some really unique ways of looking at a
problem, analyzing it from a lot of different points, and reaching
innovative solutions that might not ever have occurred to others."
McDew also believes the various challenges faced by today's Air Force
also represent targets of opportunity for Airmen to become actively
engaged in the problem-solving process, he said.
"There is so much angst in the force right now," McDew said. "These are
turbulent times. These are times of uncertainty. However, there is
hysteria in the force that is unfounded."
"Instead of grousing back in the dorms or around the water cooler, hold
your commanders to task," McDew said. "When they have a commander's
call, ask the tough questions. Ask the things you really want to hear of
the person that should have an answer or can give you a credible
McDew said as the Air Force operates with reduced resources, it must get
rid of things that add less or little value and he encouraged DCO
participants to periodically restoke their furnace, rediscover their
passion, and find a way to get their exuberance back.
In addition to offering his thoughts, McDew answered questions from the
group, including one that requested advice on overcoming the initial
reaction to withdraw and hold back counsel during a crisis.
"Don't hold back," McDew replied. "You are given an opportunity. You
just don't seize it. Many times the boss is looking for an input and
doesn't care where it comes from if it's a good input."
McDew shared his pride in today's Airmen and the legacy of excellence
they embody, noting that the Air Force was not founded by aviators.
Instead, he said, it was founded by bold, risk-taking Airmen, who were
willing to take a risk to their own careers to say the Nation needed a
separate air arm. In the joint world, McDew added, Army, Marine Corps,
and Navy leadership love to have Airmen on their team because "we think
differently and in three dimensions."
McDew encouraged the individuals on the call to display similar attributes because what they offer to commanders is valuable.
"I say thank you for a couple of reasons," he said. "What you do is
special; what you do is vitally needed; and what you do can't be done by
just every single person we have in our Air Force. You tend to become
numb to it because the people you hang out with have similar skill sets
to you, and you forget how special it is to do what you do and the value
you bring to the fight."