CAMP MURRAY, Wash. --
Have you ever stopped to look around during drill and realize what a unique place this is? All around us, every drill, is a dream team of citizens from all walks of life, who take time from their civilian lives to serve, learn, and become ready to defend our nation and serve our neighbors. Where else do you find the quality of people all gathered for a common purpose this noble?
As I walk around the Wing, I am struck by the reality that each member here represents a family, and each of your families represents a community. Within our Wing we have members who represent 227 distinct communities and towns. The better we develop and train each one of you, in time we grow our entire state for the better.
Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
My question to you, my brothers and sisters is: what keeps this from being your finest hour?
The AF is taking down barriers. With the recent changes in policy, the Air Force now recognizes any degree, not just a CCAF. Additionally, they have removed the distance learning requirement before attending PME. With these and other barriers removed, there’s never been a better time to grow and embrace opportunity in our Guard.
Success is where opportunity meets preparation. We as leaders have worked hard to make sure this is a Wing full of opportunities to serve. We have removed the former lateral barriers to becoming a senior enlisted leader. Three out of the last four Chief selections came from other units and AFSCs. In the old Guard, the unit you joined would be the only place you could progress in your career, and your upward mobility depended on the people at top retiring. Now, you are no longer limited by the unit you currently serve in. Nearly every job in the Wing is open to any AFSC, provided you want to, and can, cross train.
But opportunity has a 30 day window. That’s not enough time to get your degree, pass a failing fit test, or finish your PME. You have to be ready ahead of time. Your competition will be.
92 out of 258 MSgt & above do not have a degree. This means that 1 in 3 are not able to even apply to be considered for the next grade. Most are only 5 classes away from a degree. In dog years, that’s about 50 weeks away if you take one class at a time.
Promotion isn’t the only type of opportunity. Think about Stat Tours, Elite Schools, SPP, Special Duty Assignments, PME Instructors, and DOMOPS roles like firefighting. How about becoming an officer?
Among these opportunities to serve, don’t forget about being ready to serve as a trainer, mentor, or Wingman to your fellow Airmen. Even these roles demand preparation and study.
The Air Guard does not promise guaranteed promotion, but we do guarantee the opportunity to serve. And the ones we find leading by service, are the ones we will one day ask to serve by leading.
Finally, to all leaders in here, thank your Airmen. They are not employees. They are patriots, and they are family. Your finest hour is in front of you, and these are the good old days.
Enjoy them & have a great drill.