Leadership News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Value your service

Commentary by Air Force Master. Sgt. Ambrose Randolph
673d Medical Group

7/28/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- My favorite line in the Airman's Creed is the line that says "I have answered my nation's call". For me that line sums up what being an Airman in the United States Air Force is ultimately all about: Service.

One of the highest honors we have as men and women in uniform is the honor of serving our country. Sadly, this simple yet uncommon act is sometimes undervalued when it comes to defining a great Air Force career. Some people have a tendency to overly view evaluation ratings, decorations, awards and promotions to the higher echelons of rank as the only hallmarks of a great military career.

Those people, however, are missing the bigger picture.

Promotions and other career accolades are worthwhile endeavors, and there is nothing wrong with striving to achieve them. They help to highlight exceedingly great performance and help to distinguish you from the rest of the pack. However, if you are not careful in how much prominence you give to those achievements, you will ultimately reduce your service to mere careerism.

Careerism and service are very distinct from each other. Careerism often involves doing something, such as a task or a project merely for what it will do for you and your career.
Service, on the other hand, is different. Merriam-Webster defines service as "a helpful act", and a "contribution to the welfare of others." In other words, your service should be selfless, not selfish.

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying you should avoid trying to advance your military career while you serve your country. The point of my message is to remind you why you are really here and what it really means when you put on the uniform: it is all about your service.

There are some who will separate after four or six years of service as a senior airman, and there are some who will go above and beyond and retire with 30 years of service as a chief master sergeant. However, when it is all said and done at the end of the day, service is simply service, and sacrifice is simply sacrifice.

A quote by Airman 1st Class John L. Levitow, the lowest ranking Air Force Medal of Honor Recipient, sums up the meaning of service excellently. He said, "I have been recognized as a hero for my ten minutes of action over Vietnam, but I am no more a hero than anyone else who has served this country."

Promotions, decorations, quarterly and annual awards have their place in our Air Force. But your service to your country should never be undervalued by any of those things. Your honorable act of service in and of itself is a praiseworthy achievement and by many respects is the only hallmark that matters when it comes to defining your military career.
This goes out to all who serve, all who served yesterday, and all who will serve tomorrow: Thank you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Former Naval Academy Superintendent Leaves Legacy of Ethical Leadership

By Jessica Clark, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Two-time U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Adm. Charles R. Larson was laid to rest in the Academy cemetery July 30 after funeral services held in the Naval Academy Chapel.

Larson served as superintendent from 1983-1986 and 1994-1998. His vision led to the foundation of what is now the Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership and refocused the Naval Academy curriculum on ethical leadership.

Larson wanted the Naval Academy to be "an ethical beacon for the nation," said retired Marine Col. Arthur Athens, director of the Stockdale Center. "The center was an important component of that."

Larson established the academy's Character Development Division to provide character and honor instruction to the Brigade of Midshipmen and was instrumental in the development and construction of Alumni Hall.

He also established the master's degree program for incoming company officers and the senior enlisted leader program that brings non-commissioned officers into Bancroft Hall to work hand-in-hand with company officers and midshipmen.

"He touched all of those different areas to make sure that this was a fantastic place focused on leadership," said Athens.

Retired Capt. Hank Sanford served under Larson during both his Naval Academy tours, first as his flag secretary and later as his executive assistant, and ultimately became a close friend.

"He spent the better part of his career - active duty and retired - supporting this institution," said Sanford. "He is a part of the fabric of the Naval Academy."

Sanford was one of three who delivered eulogies during Larson's funeral service. He listed among Larson's accomplishments his impact on the brigade and countless graduates and his emphasis on leadership and ethics.

"His brand was excellence without arrogance," said Sanford.

A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., Larson graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958, a class that included Senator John S. McCain. His 40-year career included service as an aviator and submarine officer and command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was the first naval officer selected as a White House Fellow, serving as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in 1968. He also served as naval aide to President Richard Nixon.

In 1979, at the age of 43, Larson became the second-youngest admiral in U.S. Navy history. He retired in 1998.

His major military decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, seven awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, three awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. In addition, he received decorations from the governments of Japan, Korea, Thailand and France.

Larson died of pneumonia July 26 after a two-year battle with leukemia. He was 77.

"Admiral Larson's death is a great loss for the Navy family and the U.S. Naval Academy," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. He was a great man who served his nation with distinction, honor and dignity."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Development course builds leadership skills, cultural awareness for reserve officers

by Maj. Ian Phillips
U.S. Central Command

7/25/2014 - KARUP AIR BASE, Denmark -- More than fifty Guard and Reserve officers trained with their NATO counterparts during leadership exercises at the 20th annual International Junior Officer Leadership Development Course July 12-19.

Officers from seven countries met here to develop their leadership skills during seminars and field exercises. Facilitators challenged the officers both mentally and physically while sharing the challenges of working on a multicultural team. There were also lectures and teamwork events to introduce participants to the Danish Armed Forces leadership methods.

"During the course you are faced with leading professionals from various skill sets, languages and cultures," said Linda Mansolillo, a biomedical science officer assigned to the 752nd Medical Group at March Air Reserve Base, California. "They taught us a quick and effective process to quickly align the team that I will definitely use in my civilian and reserve careers."

The group included officers from Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

There were indoor and outdoor leadership development events where groups picked a leader to guide them through a demanding obstacle that challenged the whole team. Groups analyzed leadership styles and the outcomes after each event.

Capt. Robert Devane, a medical service corps officer assigned to the 94th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, said the course was a great mix of leadership and communication skills development.

"It taught me not only how to become an effective leader, but how to become a better communicator when working with others," he said.

By combining their military and civilian skill experience, the reservists brought a unique set of skills to the table.

While focused on leadership, IJOLD gave participants a chance to learn about other countries militaries, backgrounds, and traditions.

"The best part about IJOLD was building friendships with all of the international officers through team exercises and lots of humor," said Maj. Alexis Stucki, a nurse with the 934th Aeromedical Staging Squadron in Minneapolis. "We all left with not only a better understanding of our allies and their military culture but with lifelong friends we hope to see again someday."

IJOLD is held each year in a different NATO country. Officers from the rank of second lieutenant through major have participated in the weeklong course.

U.S. guard and reserve officers interested in applying should watch for the reserve school selection board announcement each year. For more information contact the Air Reserve Personnel Center.

Monday, July 21, 2014

JBER Boy Scout troops mentor next generation of leaders

by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs

7/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Summer in Alaska is often jammed full of activities - from filling the freezer with salmon to just camping and enjoying the warm days that seem to come to an end all too soon.

For Boy Scouts, camping happens both summer and winter - and there are plenty of other activities for colder winter months.

Ken Desaussure is the committee chairman for the 190th Boy Scout Troop, one of the two troops on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. A 26-year Air Force crew chief, he now oversees part of the Boy Scouts program.

The 190th comprises eight boys between 11 and 14 - though the age limit is 18. They meet weekly at the chalet at Sixmile Lake.

Another troop on JBER, the 540th, is hoping to draw more boys to their closer-to-home meeting place at Building TDM02, between the credit union and the Bioenvironmental building on JBER-Richardson.

DeSaussure was involved in Scouting himself, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He said his experiences set him up for success in the Air Force, from goal-setting to leadership.
"As far as the boys, it gives them something to work for," he said. "It also gets parents involved; we have a couple of dads go camping with us every time we go out.

"It helps them mature; they're learning personal-management skills and organization."
DeSaussure's son, Grady, is 14 and also a Scout. Though he doesn't plan on a military career at this point, he said he's reaping the benefits of Scouting.

"Things like knot-tying, I don't use that in day-to-day life," he said. "But responsibility and taking control of a situation, leadership skills, I use a lot."

He cited group projects at school, often the bane of students, as an area he's improved in.
"After [starting] Scouts, when I started learning, I tend to take charge; things are done on time, and they're done well."

Grady said he'd like to be a marine biologist. Fortunately, the Scouting program offers more than 100 different merit badges in many different areas.

"Along with outdoorsmanship, there's fishing, wildlife conservation, things like that," he said. "All those are useful here in Alaska."

For a boy who's not sure whether to get involved, Grady Desaussure said he wholeheartedly recommends the program.

"From Boy Scouts, you can learn to rock climb, shoot rifles, anything," he said. "You get to meet new people, and help a lot of people as well."

Around the holidays, the troop helps out at Bean's Cafe, serving meals to the homeless.
On Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, they place flags on the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Senior Airman Ross Whitley, a videographer with the 673d Air Base Wing, serves as the assistant Scoutmaster for the 540th. He has been involved in Scouting almost all his life.
"When I was a pre-teen and a teenager, my home life wasn't very good," Whitley said. "If I was home, I was either in my room doing nothing, or getting yelled at. Scouts was a place I could be myself with my friends and strive for something."

As an older Scout, he participated in the Challenging Outdoor Physical Encounter, which focuses on climbing skills and develops leadership skills.

"You have to work together to overcome obstacles" just like a military obstacle course, he said. "There's the spiderweb, a rope net you have to get everyone through without touching the rope. You have to get everyone on your team over a high wall."

Since everyone has different strengths, positions shift throughout the weekend's activities.
"You're 'captain, crew or cargo', and every one of those is important," Whitley explained. "Sometimes you're the team leader, who delegates the tasks; sometimes you're on the crew that does them, and sometimes you're just the cargo. But they're all important.
"The course culminates in a trust fall, but not just falling backward - you're falling from four or five feet up into a crowd of people."

"I didn't think it would transfer to the military as well as it does," Whitley said. "But really it transfers to anything - any job you have, you're going to have the same basic structure. Scouting really teaches you about small-group leadership and group dynamics."

The hierarchy of a troop is broadly similar to the military; several boys make up a patrol, roughly like an Army squad, except the patrol leader is elected by the boys.

The senior patrol leader would be equivalent to a platoon sergeant, but also elected.
Adults are just facilitators, Whitley explaned.

"It's a boy-led program. The adults are just there to make sure the boys don't
get hurt, and to take care of the administrative things, like making sure the bank account is up-to-date for camping trips or buying supplies."

Boys in high school can strive for the highest rank: Eagle Scout.

Getting there requires a major community-service project. The prospective Eagle Scout must create detailed plans and explanations, lead the crew in executing, and create a review or summary of the project.

Whitley's Eagle Scout project was re-shingling a garage for a church - a 27-by-18 foot A-frame roof.

"It's your responsibility to get the materials - usually donations from local businesses - and the volunteers to work," he said.

Patrol and troop members usually provide the manpower.

"I got the materials, but I didn't know how to shingle a roof, so I asked a local roofing company. They sent a couple of guys to show us what to do, and to make sure we were doing it right, according to building codes and regulations, using the tar paper correctly.
We had about 30 people, boys 11 to about 16, plus a few adults. I expected it to take a whole day, or even two days, but we were done in about four hours."

It's not just the leadership skills that have stuck with him, Whitley said; it's the values.
The Scout Law lists 12 qualities a Scout must have.

"I can recite the Scout Law more easily than I can the Airman's Creed," Whitley said. "When I find myself on a wrong path, I can think about that oath and find out where I'm going wrong and fix it.

"It's the 'Scout law,' but it's really twelve values every man needs to have," Whitley said. "It's a program to turn boys into good men."

"The things they instill in boys - I believe in them so highly, that's why I still work with Scouts."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AFRC hosts Junior Officer Leadership Development course at The Citadel

by Senior Airman Meredith A. H. Thomas
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/14/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- It's not uncommon to see scores of cadets in military attire milling about the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, but from July 10-13 there was an influx of young service members wearing Air Force uniforms. The 315th Airlift Wing hosted a group of nearly 50 up-and-coming junior officers at the state-run institution for the Air Force Reserve Command's Junior Officer Leadership Development course.

"JOLD is the first step in a series of professional development courses that the command offers to young Reserve officers looking to progress in their career," said Mickey McGalliard, junior officer program manager for the Professional Development Center at headquarters AFRC, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. "We like to think of it as your English 101. The skills learned in this course are built upon in subsequent courses, culminating with the International Junior Officer Leadership Development Course, which takes place in different countries each year."

And it was at one of these IJOLD courses that Maj. Kimberley Champagne, performance planner for the 315th AW and organizer of Charleston's JOLD, became inspired as a then-junior officer to one day bring the development course to the Low Country.

"I said to myself in July of 2011 after participating in an IJOLD at The Hague in the Netherlands that, if I was ever lucky enough to be stationed at Joint Base Charleston, I would request to sponsor a JOLD at The Citadel," Champagne said. "So, in planning this event, I literally have been living a dream."

The participants in the course were mostly lieutenants and captains and they were required to compete for slots through the Reserve School Selection Board. According to McGalliard, around 60 individuals usually apply for each of the four yearly iterations of JOLD but only 35 are selected. This year, due to budget restrictions in 2013, the classes were a little larger because students who had been previously selected were rolled into the 2014 courses.

The JOLD classes focused on leadership development, fostering effective communication, force management and development, and career progression among other topics. In addition, students were given a mission briefing by Col. Scott Sauter, 315th Airlift Wing commander, heard comments from Rear Adm. Eric Young, Deputy Chief for the Navy Reserve, and learned about proper social media practices from Col. Robert Palmer, Director of Public Affairs for Headquarters AFRC.

The young officers also had the opportunity to practice their newfound skills and have a bit of fun during a team building exercise. The group split into three teams and learned to collaboratively row long dragon boats around the Charleston harbor and even engaged in some friendly competition, racing the boats three times back and forth across the water.

One main purpose of the JOLD course is to foster networking among Reserve officers at the beginning of their careers. According to McGalliard, the program has unwavering support from senior AFRC leaders for this reason. This is evidenced by the participation of two general officers in this weekend's classes and events. Maj. Gen. James Stewart, military executive officer for the Reserve Forces Policy Board, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Brig. Gen. Kimberly Crider, Mobilization Assistant to the Chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, both served as mentors to the students. The generals answered questions, gave advice to the course participants and briefed them on current challenges in the changing Air Force Reserve environment. They also took to the boats and rowed alongside the young officers during the races.

"This is such a great opportunity to give back to the command," Stewart said. "It's important for us to get out and circulate among these junior officers, be approachable to them and allow them to ask us questions and provide them with some helpful guidance. It's all very rewarding."

And the mentees echoed his sentiment. "This program is highly competitive, but so informative," said Capt. Elenah Kelly, Sexual Assault Prevention Response victim advocate at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina. "It's been invaluable to hear from the upper leadership and learn what it takes to become a great commander in the future."

Champagne endeavored to foster an environment of inspiration and learning where Reserve junior officers could meet each other, build relationships and grow together in their careers.
"This was really a meant-to-be," said Champagne. "I had such a great team behind me during this planning process and so many people rallied around this because they saw the true value in it."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Military Training Leader of the Year humbled by award

by Mike Joseph
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

7/8/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- When a Military Training Leader in the 37th Training Support Squadron decided it was time to make a career path change, he had no idea that he'd leave here as an award winner.

After almost 12 years as an MTL, including duties at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Keesler AFB, Miss., and the last four at JBSA-Lackland, Master Sgt. Malcolm Summers II takes a 2014 Air Education and Training Command Outstanding Airman of the Year Award and AETC Senior MTL of the Year with him to his new assignment at Beale AFB, Calif., as a civil engineer operations manager.

"I am humbled and I truly still don't believe it," said Summers about being chosen the top MTL. "This was something I dreamed about in my younger years as an MTL. But, as you grow in rank, you learn it's about the team and their success. I give all the credit to my commander (Lt. Col. Charmine Martin, 37th TRSS commander), my teammates in the Airman Transition Assistance Flight, and my family for their love and support.

"It wasn't me who won this ... I see it as a team award," he said. "It's a testament to the amazing things ATAF has done and continues to do and Lt. Col. Martin supporting us with her time, energy and leadership to make a difference in the lives of the Airmen assigned; she's an amazing commander and leader."

Summers said when he found out he'd won at the wing level, it surprised him because "they are a lot of great senior NCOs doing great things" in the 37th Training Wing.

Summers spent the first part of the award year at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center as International Operations Squadron superintendent before moving to the 37th TRSS Airman Transition Assistance Flight as flight chief.

The flight is the 37th TRW's focal point for processing Airmen who are pending discharge from the Air Force during technical training, for reasons ranging from medical reasons to disciplinary issues to course failure.

In both positions, developing cost-cutting programs were among the highlights in Summers' award package. He served as the DLI liaison to the Royal Saudi air force country liaison officers and as an advisor to them on how to implement military training within the F-15 training project.

He taught and developed the initial training course lesson plans for the contractor staff, cutting the F-15 training project training to four days and saving $120,000. After moving to ATAF, Summers transformed and expedited the 37th TRW discharge process for non-prior service students, which saved the Air Force $1.5 million. He also developed his ATAF team implementing its Transition Education Program, helping avoid $456,000 in tuition assistance costs.

"ATAF is unique because we're processing individuals for discharge, but yet still continue to grow them as Airmen and individuals," Summers said. "We do everything we can for those Airmen who are transitioning out of the Air Force to set them up for success after they leave.

"Seven out of 10 Airmen who come through ATAF say they want to go to college. The Transition Education Program focuses on those Airmen taking the College Level Examination Program while they're still here. In six months, we had more than 1,364 college credits earned by Airmen on their way out. That's amazing."

Summers completed his re-training in early June, graduating at the top of his class in technical training school at Sheppard AFB, Texas. In a few days, the 17-year service member and his family will begin the trek to California and a new career.

"To start from scratch in a new career field is scary but exciting," he said. "I'm excited to take all the life lessons, experience and knowledge I've learned as an MTL and put it to the test."

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Chaplain coaches to "Ace" the game of life

by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/2/2014 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- For three years he coached his alma mater's women's and men's volleyball teams, teaching players how to be resilient not only in the sport but also in life. Chaplain (Capt.) Lance Schrader had no idea that years later, he would be coaching more than just a game, he would become a chaplain coaching the men and women of the Air Force to find their spiritual strength.

"I had played volleyball, coached and worked for a women's professional league, which folded after 9-11," said Schrader a native of Lincoln, Nebraska. "The events of 9-11 were a defining moment for me, I thought about what I was going to do with my life, I prayed and was open for whatever was waiting for me."

While in high school, Schrader grew up playing sports and helping teach kids Bible stories. He led summer camps that incorporated sports with Bible and missionary stories. After high school he attended Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois where he played volleyball, majored in math, coached, and worked as an administrator for a women's professional volleyball league. Then in 2004 he attended seminary school where he learned about the possibility of becoming an Air National Guard chaplain.

"My wife's old boss was a wing chaplain, so he recommended that I look into it," added Schrader. "We were moving to Arizona so we called the chaplain there, he needed help and that is how I got started."

Schrader could not believe he would have the opportunity to serve his faith and country. He was in the 161st Air Refueling Wing in Phoenix, Arizona where he was a guardsman for four years before finally joining active duty in 2012.

"I fell in love with the opportunity and couldn't believe that this was my life," said Schrader.

Once arriving to his first active duty station in Mountain Home, Idaho, he became the maintenance group chaplain, then a few years later he deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan to once again become a Chaplain for MXG.

With a new calling and atmosphere than that of the volleyball court, Schrader still uses his coaching skills to help Airmen strengthen their spiritual resiliency.

"My philosophy of ministry is that I think of myself as a coach," said Schrader. "I want to be a spiritual coach, I don't want to be the guy standing around telling people how they are supposed to live and be, I want to be the guy in it with them."

According to Schrader, a good coach is emotionally invested in the team and players. He wants to be able to lead Airmen, like his players, to a positive place.

"I want to be there motivating them, coaching and strengthening them," Schrader said. "I don't want to create spiritual resiliency, I want to know what grounds them and gives them that strength to make it even stronger."

Whether at their home base or at Bagram, Schrader and his assistant, Staff Sgt. Wyleeshia Meekins, believe that the mission is the same; to take care of Airmen.

"I am here to talk to Airmen and help the chaplain," said Meekins deployed from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and a native of Newport News, Virginia. "We are about people; building those relationships is key because it makes us more available to them when they need someone to talk to."

Schrader and Meekins make up one of the five Air Force Religious Support Teams here at Bagram, their job is to ensure Airmen are spiritually fit to fight. Deployed chaplain team's priorities are to enhance Airmen's readiness by preparing them with spiritual resiliency, engaging them through ministry of presence and spiritual care and ensuring worship and religious education opportunities are available to all.

"An important thing to remember is that we are here to listen and engage our Airmen," said Schrader. "We do this by building relationships."

Having a good relationship between the chaplain and assistant is just as important as the relationship with the Airmen.

"I love being a chaplain assistant and learning from others, it allows me to be a people person," said Meekins. "Having a professional relationship with Chaplain Schrader is very important as well, it helps our team be successful and help Airmen," mentioned Meekins.

Visiting Airmen during shift changes or meetings allows Schrader and Meekins an opportunity to ensure Airmen know a support team is available to them.

Schrader believes his mission is to be here and care for all Airmen, to him being a chaplain is an easy job compared to being a maintainer or Security Forces.

"If I can put a smile on their face and let them know I am glad to be here it might make them a little more positive... happiness is contagious," added Schrader.

If you asked Schrader 15 years ago if he knew he would transition from coaching players on the court to coaching spiritual strength to Airmen in Afghanistan, he would have said it wasn't in his plans. After following his set path, Schrader believes that life and his experiences have set him to where he is now.

"I think my coaching and teaching prepared me for chaplaincy, you have to have the theology background but teaching and coaching gave me the skillset to be the type of chaplain I want to be," said Schrader.

While "coaching" Airmen to strengthen their resiliency, Schrader also finds the time to build relationships through sports. Like his coaching philosophy of being "in it" with them, he makes time to play pick-up games and help create important bonds between his support team and the Airmen.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Commentary: "Brown's Bag" -- budget and leadership lessons

by Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brown
Comptroller, Air Force Materiel Command

7/1/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- As I depart for my new assignment as the 2nd Air Force commander at Keesler AFB, Miss., I can't help but reflect on my previous assignments and what I've learned in my nearly 28 years of service.

As a comptroller, I obviously pay a lot of attention to the budget environment. While current headlines might seem dire, today's fiscal environment is typical of a post war inter-war period. After two-plus decades of war -- including major Air Force participation in humanitarian efforts -- we should not be surprised that the nation is seeking a peace dividend. A similar trend has occurred immediately following major conflict since before the birth of our Air Force. The recurring pattern of upward and downward trends in the Defense Budget shows a predictable historical pattern with the national threat being the causal indicator. The nation has always provided additional resources needed to address a clear and present danger. Unfortunately, our track record in predicting the next threat in terms of timing and characteristics is not that good. Today's budget debate is really about how much is "enough" to achieve near-term readiness with reasonable investment in an uncertain future threat.

The Defense Budget is a complex calculation, with one of the major cost drivers being personnel. Personnel costs are 38 percent of the Air Force Operations and Maintenance budget. Therefore, end strength changes achieved through programs such as early retirements and reductions in force boards represent hard budget decisions and threat calculations. The force management programs are a necessary step we must take as a force. However, as the threat and the budget change, so do the personnel decisions. These strategic policies can have the very tactical impact of causing frustration and uncertainty, especially among our junior force members.

I always warn those who serve to be careful making decisions based on headlines. Airmen, talk with your commanders, career assistance advisers and other mentors to find out if you are at risk of being separated under one of the involuntary programs. Check your personnel folders to make sure all your records are up to date before separation boards begin reviewing them. If you want to serve, try your best to continue to do so by doing what you have a passion for and doing it well. Service is a privilege and an honor that we should all be allowed to pursue. As we go through these changes, we must strengthen the team by supporting each other and working as one.

How can we support each other as good Airmen and leaders? Leadership is an Air Force core competency required without regard to a specific badge or specialty. It is an art, and not a science, because of the very real human dynamic. Therefore, like any art, we must practice and develop this skill set in large part through lessons of life -- good and bad -- that inform our future actions. In that light, I offer the following 11 points as my leadership perspective, or what I call "Brown's Bag."

Point 1: What gets measured gets done.
Publication in law, DODI or AFI may not be enough. Leaders should measure, grade and govern the things that are "no fail" in their business. How do you know it is being done as you directed?

Point 2: Bloom where you are planted.
Our business is global and will take you to places that you are yet to dream about. However, it is not based on your personal desires but the needs of the Air Force. An Air Force career, at some point, will require you to let go of your geographical preference in order to fully serve. Be ready to do that; have the discussion with your family. You never know what you do or do not like unless you try. Although it may feel like you are a flower planted in concrete, it is your job to show up and grow regardless of the perceived environment. I have loved every one of my assignments and didn't pick any of them.

Point 3: You are neither better-looking nor funnier on the day you take command or a leadership role.
Don't let your rank get in the way of who you are. Continue doing the remarkable things that got you to your position. The special attention you are receiving is out of respect for your position. Earn it each day and it will continue to be yours. Seeing it as an entitlement is the beginning of your downfall.

Point 4: Leaders must be willing to be lonely.
Leaders must move the ball sometimes in no more than two years. This often means changing the status quo. Some may not be happy with the leader when this occurs. That's okay. You are put in a position to lead -- not to win popularity contests.

Point 5: Rank does not equal knowledge.
Find ground truth and answers to your questions wherever the expertise exists. This could be two stripes or two stars. When I was a commander, I had a lot of meetings to figure out why traffic continued to back up at the front gate, but I wasn't satisfied with the explanations. One night, I rode his bike to the front gate with a couple of soft drinks in hand. I shared the soft drink with the airman first class gate guard and learned everything I needed to know.

Point 6: Get mad and get over it.
The days of toxic leadership plagued by emotional flare-ups and temper tantrums are over and have no place in today's Air Force. Leaders can and must be demanding but must not allow their anger to ruin their decorum as leaders. This is critical for a successful organization and to have the free exchange of ideas.

Point 7: Read something every day.
I was inspired by the admirable leadership of Bill Creech, which I read in "Creech Blue." This leader has passed away, but his lessons of rebuilding the then Tactical Air Command, post-Vietnam are timeless. There is much to learn beyond our brick and mortar classrooms.

Point 8: Every human being deserves respect.
Our nation and our Air Force believe in human dignity and respect. Nothing anyone can do disqualifies them from deserving human respect and dignity. Leaders must keep this in mind as we develop policies and actions that address large and diverse populations.

Point 9: Once your health is gone, so are you.
We are all replaceable and we should make time for our health. Our Vice Chief of Staff goes to the fitness center most days, so we should make the time as well.

Point 10: Your intellect can take you to positions that your character cannot sustain.
With the seemingly constant news of military leaders failing their core values, I implore leaders to keep integrity at the forefront of who they are. Our intellect will get us promoted, earn us distinguished graduate status and garner many other well deserved accolades. However, our character will sustain us and make us the leaders needed by our Air Force and the nation.

Point 11: Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
Leaders must be willing to stand-up and say that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Our goal is to help treat it and get our Airmen back to the fight. If you strain your ankle during training, we take you out of formation with full intent to get you well and to return you to duty. Mental illness must be viewed through the same lens.