Airpower is a team sport

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dustin C. Richards
  • 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Commander
Across the country, as winter gives way to spring, the leaves start to bud, the flowers start to bloom, and baseball stadiums in small towns, on college campuses and in big cities come alive with anticipation as we welcome back the national pastime. Hope fills the heart of every fan as each team begins the season with an unblemished record and dreams of a championship. Players and coaches spend countless hours on the practice field preparing for the competition to come.

Baseball is a team sport. Although the game focuses on the individual contest between pitcher and hitter, everything that comes before and after that battle is influenced by the nine people on each team. Single at-bats aggregate over the course of a season into a picture that tells the true story of the cohesiveness and teamwork that each team exhibits. Your Air Force is no different.

Although our service is the smallest it has ever been, it is also made up of the most talented, technically savvy Airmen it has ever seen. It is imperative that leaders recognize this capability and empower their Airmen to overcome the challenges they will face as they execute the Nation’s business on a day-to-day basis. In return for this endowment of responsibility, Airmen must respond by displaying leadership at all levels, from the most junior member hitting and fieldling to the general officer managing the team and providing strategic guidance.

In addition to leadership at all levels, a team requires clear and consistent communication up and down the chain of command. In a baseball game there is a never-ending stream of signs flowing from the base coach to the batter, from the catcher to the pitcher and from the bench to those on the field. The same holds true for the execution of Airpower. If maintainers cannot communicate with pilots, junior airmen with NCOs, officers with enlisted and civilian with military, the team will not have a chance at being successful.

As a service, we have reduced our team to the smallest possible size. It is imperative that every player who takes the field does so prepared to lead in whatever capacity the Air Force needs, while developing into the leader we will need in the future. Furthermore, it is crucial that the men and women on our team put on their uniforms ready to be world-class communicators, enabling us to reduce the fog and friction that can cripple the mission.

I think Airmen from the flightline to the command post, from the dining facility to the maintenance backshop, from the fire department to the headquarters and from Hurlburt Field to the Pentagon can take pride in their part as a teammate in the world’s greatest Air Force. Each member of the team is entitled to strong, capable leadership and deserving of full and open communication. I encourage each of you to take a long look in the mirror and ask if you are doing everything you can every day to deliver these critical mission enablers.

Play ball!