There’s no button for the AF way

  • Published
  • By ACC Media Contest
  • Commentary Entry 1
We've all been there - standing in line at [insert your favorite fast food restaurant here], when you realize what you really want isn't exactly on the menu. Daringly, you order it anyway - extra cheese, no mayonnaise, add some of that spicy sauce. The cashier gets a confused look on his face, stares at the register in sheer befuddlement and says, "I'm sorry, there's no button for that."

In essence, the cashier is saying, "I don't know how to ring up what you're asking for or overcome the obstacle in front of me." It's irritating and it's time consuming. You wonder how it could be so difficult to refrain from sloshing mayonnaise on your meal. Most of the time customers walk away with less than they expected from these situations, all because someone behind the counter didn't know how or care to think outside of the box, or in this case, the cash register keypad. Or even worse, the manager forgot to tell the cashier it's okay to provide the customer what they're asking for.

I see a very different attitude in the Air Force. The number of Airmen I meet who find a way to get the mission done when there is a lack of or conflict in Air Force instructions, policy or training continuously impresses me. Airmen see obstacles and figure out how to overcome them. They ask questions, seek answers and find better ways to get the job done. Their leadership allows them the opportunity to think for themselves, find better solutions and create a work environment that gets the job done.

This is why our nation's Air Force is the most decisive, responsive and powerful in the world today - the ability to see the big picture and overcome obstacles is what separates our Airmen from our would-be enemies. We are a group of professionals dedicated to our mission and to one another.

As leaders of Airmen, we need to break out of the stovepipes in which we often find ourselves, continually challenging one another to learn how we affect the big picture from the lowest levels to the highest. It is important for every Airman to know his role in winning our nation's wars. This allows us to see obstacles and create processes to overcome them. By knowing our piece of the puzzle, we can find better, more efficient means of providing our services to one another and to our Air Force. It allows us to meet the needs of our customer - America - not with a look of sheer befuddlement, but with confidence and conviction, which allows us to succeed even in austere war zones in situations for which we haven't trained.

It allows us the opportunity to meet a diverse enemy with much more than bombs on target. We have, can and will continue to meet our enemy with unbeatable tactics, out-of-the-box solutions and the most flexible Air Force in the world.

Our Airmen have the ability to look at their "cash registers" and in the face of a challenge or the obstacle of "there's no button for that," find the parts to create a solution that wasn't necessarily taught or read somewhere along the way. We as Airmen think outside the box to meet the daily demands placed on us to deliver the world's most capable expeditionary Air Force. I'll have one of those, please, to go.