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Overcoming disadvantages

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Michael Elson
  • 8th Airlift Squadron chief enlisted manager
I attended a commander's call and Bronze Star presentation some time ago. The audience heard the importance of global reach in today's fight and the commander linked how the recipient's achievements dovetailed into the larger fight.

He transitioned to challenges ahead and introduced his re-motivation step. He cited George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River and catching the British unprepared, despite herculean odds. He showed that this event catalyzed the Continental Army's ability to dictate tempo and overcome adversarial strengths. I believe we can apply Washington's solutions to today's challenges and there's even something funny and ironic.

Washington's men lacked essentials like training, nourishment and even boots. All these hardships resulted from inadequate funds and resources--sound familiar?

This is when my Airman struck! Leaning over he asked, "Sergeant Elson, is it true you guys didn't have boots?"

I almost fell off my chair! I thought I was old, but this Airman just brought it home. He made me laugh but more importantly he told me he was listening to the message, which was great! The added fact that it was hilarious did help save his life that day.

Today we are facing challenges that echo Washington's decision. The Continental Army lacking food, training and boots (I'm told) followed their leaders seizing the tactical advantage. One big win, led to additional wins. Ultimately demoralizing the occupying force had inspired a nation to drive forward. We know the score of that game but we have another battle unfolding before us.

We are looking at our major command, wing, unit and personal checkbooks finding less cash to go around. Washington taught us that we can overcome disadvantages through devotion and calculated risk.

Today our leaders need followers with intellectual muscle to balance our "account" by innovative solutions. Their technical understanding and traction far exceed our and they are more adept at leveraging technology. Together we can adapt our training profiles, eliminate redundancy and "recapitalize" capability. This will deliver tomorrow's tactical advantage like Washington all those years ago. These offsets help balance the budget, retain or elevate capability, but it can't happen without you--the most important part of the Air Force.

Talent is essential and it's the gravitational center of great organizations. We have incredible talent overcoming budget, policy and performance gaps everyday--that's how we've made it this far! As leaders we must encourage these successes in order to secure tomorrow's viability and relevance.

Additionally, I was happy to see that young Airman, now a technical sergeant, who leaned over asking if I had boots when I served with Washington "pop" on my radar as an inbound personnel! Funny how life has a way of working out.