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Where do you fit in the big picture?

Lt. Col. Allen Hess
6th Air Mobility Wing Chief of Safety

Is your job important to the security of this country? You bet it is. Worldwide operations in the Global War on Terror require a strong capable Air Force to ensure this country can carry out its goals.

That strong Air Force requires professional personnel in dozens of different AFSCs with hundreds of different duty titles. But not all of us can be in those "tip of the spear" jobs that are the most visible in the war effort. If you are not right on the front line, it might be hard to see the contribution you are making to our national security.

Over the years, I have encountered individuals or even entire offices that didn't function well, as I am sure you have. Frequently, I've found that part of the problem was that the personnel involved didn't understand the importance of their particular job to the overall mission. Admittedly, when you are buried in some of the details of your job-daily paperwork and emails, end of year reports, studying for upgrade training, etc.-it's not easy to see your connection to the big picture.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet retired Gen. Robert "Dutch" Huyser, former commander in chief, Military Airlift Command and aviation legend. I noticed that as he talked with military members he met, he told them that America was proud of their service and that "civilians", like him, appreciated the work they were doing.

He made it a point to ask exactly what each person's primary duty was and made sure to highlight how it contributed to the overall success of the Air Force. Working a headquarters staff job at the time, I couldn't see how America could care less about my efforts on the stack of paperwork in my inbox. After listening to General Huyser, I've since realized that everything I worked on had some effect on others in the Air Force and their ability to perform better.

Look closely at your job and you'll see that a basic purpose of your daily work is to enable other military members to do their job well. Here in the Safety office, our purpose is to ensure all MacDill members have a safe environment in which to work. Mission support personnel here handle innumerable daily tasks that allow others, like maintenance and operations personnel, to do their jobs in support of the flying mission.

MacDill's flying mission provides travel for senior military decision-makers and refueling for other flying units worldwide. All of us fill some kind of support role to keep the Air Force running smoothly, and in the "big picture," a competent Air Force fills a large support role in the entire joint warfighting effort.

Although we are part of the most capable Air Force in history, it is still relatively small and getting smaller, even as we prosecute the war on terror. As you have seen the past few years, with career field cuts and retraining, there aren't really any jobs left that aren't truly required to make the service's mission work. Rest assured that whatever job you have been placed in, the leadership at MacDill, and the Air Force as a whole, are absolutely counting on you to do that job in an excellent manner.

MacDill's flying mission provides travel for senior military decision-makers and refueling for other flying units worldwide. All of us fill some kind of support role to keep the Air Force running smoothly, and in the "big picture," a competent Air Force fills a large support role in the entire joint warfighting effort.

Although we are part of the most capable Air Force in history, it is still relatively small and getting smaller, even as we prosecute the war on terror. As you have seen the past few years, with career field cuts and retraining, there aren't really any jobs left that aren't truly required to make the service's mission work. Rest assured that whatever job you have been placed in, the leadership at MacDill, and the Air Force as a whole, are absolutely counting on you to do that job in an excellent manner.

Remember that one of the Air Force core values is not just "Excellence," but "Excellence in all we do." For the Air Force to remain successful, every part of this complex machine needs to function well. Accordingly, excellence needs to be the goal you strive for daily in everything you work on. As a smart man (Aristotle) once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

So what can you do to make this country more secure and help the overall mission? The simple answer is: do your job well. Not just adequately--be the best in the Air Force at your particular job, learn the regulations, improve the processes, ace the exams and train your troops. Try everyday to learn something new about your part in making the mission happen, here at MacDill and worldwide.

Commanders and supervisors--follow General Huyser's example and make it a priority to help those in your unit understand where they fit in the "big picture." Make the connection between the tasks your folks do daily and the overall security of our nation. It's easy to be proud of the work our Air Force does across the globe-if your troops have pride in their part of that work, excellence will surely follow.

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