Handy speaks to personal responsibility

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Russell Handy
  • Commander, 11th Air Force
"This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific -- security, prosperity and dignity for all. That's what we stand for. That's who we are. That's the future we will pursue, in partnership with allies and friends, and with every element of American power. So let there be no doubt: In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in," President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

This quote from our President highlights the rebalance to the Pacific as a national priority. I think it perfectly reflects the importance of our 11th Air Force mission. Whether it involves defending our homeland; supporting civil authorities during a natural disaster; running an enormous joint base; caring for a 30 year-old hangar; maintaining a multi-million dollar jet; or leading a team of Airmen doing all of the above, what each of you do every day, matters.

Because the success of our mission rests on the shoulders of our Airmen, it is critical our 11th Air Force team remain unified and strong. This is why we need each of you to act with personal responsibility and hold one other accountable for your actions.

I trust each of you had a chance to reflect on the importance of sexual assault prevention during April--our Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There were 3,200 victims of sexual assault in YOUR Air Force during fiscal year 2012. If this disturbs you....it should. Sexual assault degrades and destroys the foundation upon which our organization has been built and tears at the seams which binds our team together.

Our goal should be easy to understand--eliminate sexual assault from within the ranks. Each of you must have zero tolerance for disrespect of one another to help prevent sexual assaults. From the time we join the Air Force, we are taught the Core Values of Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do. I need you to live our Core Values without fail to help achieve our goal.

Take a look at your actions, and the actions of those around you. 'Little things' sometimes mean a lot. Perceptions are important. Don't be afraid to speak out against inappropriate discussions. Don't be ashamed to speak up for what you know to be right. If you don't, who will? What occurs after that is a slippery slope. If 'we' somehow get the impression treating each other with dignity and respect is optional, we've failed. It is foundational to preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault in our institution.

We live in challenging times. I know that. I know I put a lot of stress on you to get your mission done in a resource constrained environment. The key to handling stress is taking care of....NOT taking advantage of...each other. I want you to enjoy Alaska. This place is absolutely breathtaking. I truly feel like we've been given the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the beauty of this Arctic countryside and the warm hospitality of our local community. Let's work together to experience the 'Last Frontier' together...as a family! A family respects and cares for one another. That is what you are a part of folks. Let's embrace that.

The nation has turned her eyes to the Pacific and Alaska holds a critical part of that as we not only look to the west, but do what we must to protect the homeland. Remember, each and every one of you is a valuable member of our team, and your role in our mission matters. Do what you must to ensure each of our teammates is treated with dignity and respect.