I'm Staying Too!

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michael Allison
  • 8th Aircraft Maitenance Squadron commander
As I was preparing to write this article I stumbled upon an open letter, "I'm Staying," written by Maj. Gen. Donald Wetekam, the then Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations and Logistics, several years ago. General Wetekam was responding to an "I Quit" letter submitted to the Air Force Times by a disgruntled military member who was departing the service because the member felt the Air Force had changed and no longer cared. As I read the letter, I realized much of what General Wetekam had written, was still relevant today.

While I agree that the world and our Air Force are changing at an incredibly rapid pace, I am under no illusion that these changes are directed at me or intended for the sole purpose of upsetting the masses. They are designed to ensure our Air Force continues as the premier air and space power; a force that knows no equal -- now or ever. In order to achieve this, continuous and rapid change must occur across our enterprise. When this happens, people adapt to this change in different ways: some people lead the charge, some come along for the ride, and still others abandon the ship because the challenge is too great. Each of us has to decide which of these paths to take.

As an Air Force member with almost 27 years of enlisted and commissioned time, General Wetekam's letter made me reflect on my own reasons for remaining in the Air Force and how they compared to those put forth by the general; surprisingly, even with the drastic changes our service has gone through, the reasons for staying are remarkably similar.

I'M STAYING TOO! For me, it is an easy choice. I am staying because I believe there is unfinished business to take care of. We are a part of a professional organization; the envy of almost every other professional organization in the world. An organization where your specific job is less important than the fact you are a professional Airman. An organization that values your ability as a leader and mentor as much as it values your ability as an administrator, a pilot or a maintainer. An organization that recognizes the character of an individual so much so that it embodies it within its core values: Integrity, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do.

I'M STAYING TOO! Because our organization, the United States Air Force, is one where everyone is treated fairly and equally. In fact, just as General Wetekam pointed out, "One of our biggest faults may be that we try so hard to achieve fairness in our personnel system that we sometimes create unintended turmoil through all-too-frequent rule changes. But at least the motivation is pure, even if we are somewhat lacking in execution."

I'M STAYING TOO! Because we are an incredibly synergistic fighting force; a team of incredibly talented, educated and creative individuals who come from disparate backgrounds to create an unstoppable force. This team is unlike anything else you will encounter in the private sector, with an incredible sense of camaraderie and community caring.

I'M STAYING TOO! Because every day we have scores of amazing young Airmen coming into our service and I believe they crave strong leadership. They need us "old-timers," despite our own shortcomings, to help them along. Not because we are necessarily smarter or more motivated, but rather because we are experienced and savvy. We have been where they are and they need the mentorship and leadership we have to offer in bucketfuls.

So, in conclusion, I'M STAYING TOO! To echo General Wetekam once again, I'm staying because I love this country and I love the United States Air Force. Today more than ever, there are challenges that need the unique talents and experiences that I still have to offer. There are tough jobs ahead that need the expertise and training possessed by my contemporaries and me. It goes without saying that we are flawed like everyone else -- there is no perfect human, but leaving before the job is done and because the Air Force has changed and become more challenging is not an option.

So you can reach me in my office or on the flight line first thing tomorrow morning, bright and early as always!