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AFSOC Priority #2: “Create an environment for our Airmen and families to thrive”

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold
  • Air Force Special Operations Command
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles focusing on each of the four AFSOC priorities.

Air Commandos,

Our people—America’s Air Commandos—are the most important part of this command. Without you, we cannot conduct our mission, period. As the SOF Truth tells us, “humans are more important than hardware,” and we must live by these words.

That’s why one of our command priorities is to create an environment for Airmen and families to thrive. Every single day you are out there bringing the fight to our nation’s enemies. You courageously serve all over the world to defend our freedom and protect our way of life and your families sacrifice much to support our mission. Make no mistake, your value to the fight does not depend on how close you are to it. Whether you serve in a support role in garrison or on the front lines, you make a huge impact on the success of our operations.

Because the people of AFSOC are so important, my direction to leaders at all levels is to make sure that we take care of you, both personally and professionally, just as you take care of our mission. To make this happen, we are looking at everything from improving resiliency to developing the force through enhanced education and promotion opportunities to efforts to give you more personal time.

With respect to resiliency and family support programs, the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command provide us with many valuable support resources. There are so many programs that it can be confusing to try to figure out what programs are out there and where to start. We are going to tackle that problem by rolling out the Peer Network Coordinator pilot program in January. This will be one-stop-shop to help direct people to the right resources on base, online or in the community. By eliminating the guesswork when seeking assistance, we can get you the help you need quicker and keep our force at full strength.

We are also closely tracking professional military education attendance and command-wide assignment management. We want to make sure our folks transition between Hurlburt Field, Cannon Air Force Base and our overseas groups at the right times to help develop their careers. With our remotely piloted aircraft community, for instance, we are looking at cross-flow opportunities with Air Combat Command to broaden experience outside our command. All of these efforts are intended to make our people more competitive for promotion and ultimately beat the Air Force’s promotion rates.

Finally, we must give some time back to our Airmen and ensure that you have opportunities for balance in your life. Your ability to spend more time with your family is extremely important to me. With all the hard work you put in every day to meet the demands of our challenging mission, we owe it to you to make sure you have time to be with your families and pursue your personal goals. We are taking a hard look at all of our processes and requirements to see where we can improve and gain efficiencies. At Hurlburt, for example, we hired seven additional contractors to expedite the process of making ID cards. This has reduced wait times to 20 minutes, which is well below the Air Force average. We are getting after other such needs in the same way.

I expect each individual, supervisor and commander to proactively seek ways to create an environment for Airmen and families to thrive. We all have a role to play. Building resilient, healthy, and strong Air Commandos sets us up for success and allows us meet our other priorities.

I am so proud of everything we have accomplished this year and I look forward to everything we will achieve in the future. Thank you all for your selfless service and dedication to our mission and thanks for your attention to this important priority!