News: AF top leader visits Iceman Team
Story by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska - Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III visited Eielson Aug. 30, 2013, as part of a two-week tour of the Pacific to discuss opportunities and challenges in the region.
Accompanying Welsh was his wife, Betty, and Athena Cody, wife of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, to talk to spouses and families about programs and specific issues related to family care here.
Their visit to Eielson took them to various locations to include the new Eielson City Center, the Baker Field House, 168th Air Refueling Wing and the 353rd Combat Training Squadron, home of RED FLAG-Alaska.
Throughout the visit, Welsh met with Icemen, providing an opportunity to talk with him one-on-one and ask questions during an Airman's call.
He explained the main reason for the visit was to show his gratitude to the men and women serving at Eielson and their families.
“Thanks to every one of you and what you do,” he said. “We are the world’s greatest Air Force because of you.”
Additionally, he spoke and answered questions about several key issues affecting the total Air Force, to include civilian furloughs, physical training test changes, sexual assault, tuition assistance and sequestration.
Recurring questions were rightly centered on budget constraints and impacts of sequestration.
Welsh said both civilians and uniformed service members have felt the effects of budget cuts, and thanked everyone for their patience as Congress works through these big-picture issues.
He emphasized the need for making common sense decisions and eliminating needless work-flow processes. The chief of staff charged all Eielson Airmen with identifying inefficiencies and unnecessary work at their level.
“Make common sense the first priority in your life,” said Welsh. “If you find a standard that doesn't agree with common sense, it's wrong. Have the morale courage to lead and to make decisions that benefit your people and your mission.”
Welsh also stressed the need for communication in the chain of command and the need to care for each other as the Air Force continues to evolve. He stressed the importance of genuinely getting to know the Airmen around you.
“Our Air Force is better connected and caring than ever before, yet no matter how much we say we care, we have to care more,” the general said. “Know each other’s story. If we know each other’s story, we’ll know when someone is having a bad day. Our mission’s performance will be better and that’s the Air Force I want to be part of.”
Welsh concluded his speech by sharing what he's most proud of.
“I don't like anything about the Air Force – I love the Air Force,” he said. “I love working with people who know what matters and will do anything it takes to get the job done. I can't tell you how proud I am to stand beside you.”