Above all, Airmen are warriors

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Steven Goetsch
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs
So, I'm sitting in a traffic jam. It's bumper to bumper. My lane seems stuck, but other lanes are slowly creeping along as I see a steady flow of motorists pass me by. 

To keep from going insane, I let my mind wander around and look at things that I normally would not notice. Well the thing that caught my attention was an unusually large amount of cars that had "Support our Troops" stickers on them. I saw yellow ones, red white and blue ones, heck, even a camouflaged one. 

This led to me thinking about all of the press I had seen and heard, blogs I have read, surveys that are taken about the unpopularity of the war. Could it be possible? Could an American support our Airmen without supporting the war? Well I preferred to let this question drift by like the fortunate souls in lane two who were making progress. Instead, I focused on the disconnect. Why was there a gap between our Airmen, and our profession? Why are we not viewed as expeditionary? Even after 17 years of continuous combat. 

I think there are two big reasons that feed this gap. The first reason is a positive thing. Today's Airmen are professionals that not only live and work in their communities, but they are soccer coaches, meal deliverers, carpoolers, teachers and volunteers. Wherever Airmen are stationed around the world, rest assured their impact in the community is felt. 

That leads the public to view you as a "nice guy", and an important part of your community. They feel bad for you when you get deployed and rejoice when you return. They humanize you, and that isn't a bad thing because they view you as a friend and a neighbor, and that is not only part of being an Airman, but a responsible citizen. 

The other thing that contributes to the gap of understanding is something I feel Airmen could do better. They don't always take advantage of telling the public what they do for the Air Force, and how important their job is to fighting the Global War on Terror. 

Picture yourself in your driveway, washing your car on a beautiful day and your neighbor comes and starts washing his. He asks you, "What did you do this week?" He just set the table for you to tell him about the exercise you had, or the inspection you just completed. Not only is it important to give him information about his Air Force, but tell him the reason you do those things keeps your war-fighting skills proficient and sharp. It's that proficiency and attention to detail that enables you to not only perform your wartime tasks, but lets you return to your community and your troops as well. 

He might have lived on that block for a decade and thought the only thing that happened on base was training sorties. Most people are curious, but not many ask questions. I don't know why. Maybe they don't want to talk shop, or they think it is top-secret spy stuff that you need to protect with your life. 

Of course keeping operation security in mind, there are always great opportunities to educate the public in not only your local mission, but the Air Force's mission of providing Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for the defense of their country. The way the Air Force goes about providing for the security of the United States is a great ice-breaker. 

Sharing the Air Force story is easy. You just have to know your mission and how that mission ties into the Global War on Terror. Bridge that gap of understanding so the public knows you what you do and why you do it. Airmen are dynamic, and the public wants to hear what you've got to say. So in addition to being that great neighbor, that troop leader or that coach, you need to make sure they realize above all, you're a warrior.