Joint Base Charleston


An Airman's narrative

By Lt. Col. Joseph Meyer | 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander | February 27, 2013

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- As the youngest military branch in the Department of Defense, the Air Force has moved very rapidly from a fledging flying force born from the Army, to a premier independent Air Force that can bring force or hope to bear in any corner of the globe. Our rapid development since 1947 has also meant that we accept change readily in order to remain relevant. While much change is for the better, we as Airmen can be left looking for a thread that links what we do on a daily basis to some greater purpose, something that sharpens our focus, ties us to our heritage, or provides the intangible drive required to achieve success against adversity.

That thread is an Airman's narrative. A narrative is an account or a story that relates events and experiences. Anyone can create a narrative, and in this connected age, anyone can have their narrative disseminated among a broad audience. Why we do what we do, or how we fit into the larger picture can either be clarified or confused through narrative. For this reason it is all the more important that Airmen understand the importance of their narrative.

How do we trace our narrative to the squadron level in a manner that provides a sense of meaning to what we do? It begins by understanding that there is a thread that runs from national strategic objectives to squadron level tasks. For the purpose of this article, the discussion begins with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Direction to the Joint Force. There are four themes that shape the direction of each branch of the military. Those are achieving national objectives in current conflicts, future development of the Joint Force, recommitting to the Profession of Arms, and keeping faith with the military family.

Nested within Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh's focus is that of the Air Force. Welsh's vision provides a concise look at Air Force focal points. That focus is first and foremost our Airmen who accomplish the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win. Our Chief of Staff puts great emphasis on human capital and expects us to constantly look for smarter ways of doing business as we execute global reach, vigilance and power. Pulling the thread from the Air Force level to Air Mobility Command, the mission is to provide global mobility ... right effects, right place, right time. In doing that, focal areas for AMC are winning the fight as part of the joint force, enhancing mobility partnerships, developing and caring for Airmen and their families and strengthening nuclear mission support all while sustaining and preparing for tomorrow.

As the force generator and warfighting arm of AMC, 18th Air Force's focus is most simply captured in the vision, delivering the promise of global reach to America's warfighters. Bringing the mission closer to home; the 437th Airlift Wing's mission is to safely provide precise, reliable airlift ... worldwide. The vision is to be the nation's airlift wing of choice; leading through excellence and innovation. To take this thought to its logical conclusion the squadron mission and vision should be nested and focused as well. The 14th Airlift Squadron is committed to making rapid global mobility a reality always striving for Excellence in Airmanship. Learn your squadron's mission, internalize it, and tie the thread back to our broader shared mission.

This is the Airman's narrative.

From the purposefully broad strategic direction of the Joint Chief of Staff of the Air Force to the narrow focus of the squadron, there are a few elements common to every organizational level. Those elements are the Airmen and the mission. This is the essence of our narrative: simply, Airmen getting the mission done. Everything else builds on that; from turning wrenches, to protecting the network, to operating a weapon system. Be proud of who you are, look to the mission to find your sense of purpose and build on the Airman's narrative every day.

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