Good leaders do not shirk their responsibility

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Ashmore
  • 341st Force Support Squadron comander
Just like the other branches of the military, members of the Air Force face the stress of frequent overseas deployments in answering our nation's call for supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in foreign lands. Those who aren't currently overseas also find that there's plenty of work at Malmstrom with our 24/7 nuclear enterprise mission. In essence, people in garrison are "deployed" to the missile field for extended periods of time to perform long stretches of duty and are expected to perform their duties with the utmost of excellence. Either deployment can create "stressors" in our daily lives. We work hard performing our operational requirements and at being a valuable member of the Malmstrom team, but at the same time, we have a need to take advantage of our off-duty time to decompress. 

Our off-duty time is where we potentially have the biggest risks for displaying poor judgment and getting ourselves into trouble. Naturally, we fill our schedule full of family events, vacation, and parties and often work harder at "relaxing" than we do in our work sections. Unconsciously, we try to "catch-up" or compress all the missed opportunities to socialize and be with family and friends. We participate in what may be normal activities, but make them potentially dangerous by pushing ourselves a little further by disregarding our limitations. For instance, some people like to get away and travel. Instead of taking their time and planning for a couple of days to get there, they drive for extended periods and put themselves and others at risk on the road. Another challenge is the prospect of drinking and driving. Many go to a party with a good wingman plan, but for whatever excuse they fail to execute their plan by traveling with a designated driver, taking advantage of safe ride programs, or by simply calling on their chain-of-command to get home. Both scenarios demonstrate impaired judgment of the individual and a failure of leadership to get out in front and put into place measures to prevent these occurrences. It also highlights the fact that some of us are pushing ourselves too far on our off-duty time. 

Airmen have to take care of Airmen at all levels and should embrace the role of being a wingman. Commanders bear responsibility for the total welfare of their assigned personnel, including the physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions; likewise, supervisors (regardless of rank) are the first line of defense for pulsing the well being of their people. More important, they are often in a prime position to recognize the first signs of distress and offer solutions to mitigate potentially negative outcomes. Specifically, this means they have an inherent responsibility to take action when signs of negative stress or bad choices are observed. 

All Airmen must lead by example and be good wingmen by taking care of themselves and those around them. Remember, our Air Force demands "excellence" as the standard. It is critical to our nuclear enterprise operations, our expeditionary mission, and in everything else we do. Good leaders regardless of rank or status, do not shirk their responsibility in the face of adversity, but embrace the opportunity to truly serve their fellow Airman 24 hours a day.