Defending our nation is every servicemember's job

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Hamuka
  • 571st Global Mobility Squadron
"That's not my job."

We've all heard these words or some variation of them at some point in our career. What did it say to you about the individual or the organization that person represents? What would be the impact on our mission if we let this mentality creep into our culture?
Today, our service is in the midst of a reduction in personnel and resources. The effects of these cutbacks are further amplified by our nation being at war. The challenges we face because of these reductions are real. Their impact on our mission is real. Times like these can push supervisors and organizations to guard their people like a dog with a bone.

It's not pretty but it is human nature. In our profession, we must take deliberate and conscious steps to resist this.

As we fight our nation's enemies with diminishing resources, our units, specialties and even branch of service must not get in the way of supporting each other and sharing assets. We all know somebody who has deployed to support our sister services through the "in-lieu of" tasking process. This is our service's way of supporting our overall mission: defending our nation against all enemies.

Our senior leaders answered our brothers in arms call. They did not say to them "that's not my job." Our service stood up and is making a difference.

During a recent TDY, I sat next to Soldier returning from Iraq. I mentioned I was in the Air Force. We began to talk about his experiences doing convoy operations and how the Air Force supported this critical mission. He was very emphatic about the outstanding job the Air Force personnel did.

In particular, he mentioned that although at home friendly, cross-service rivalry does exist, on the ground in Iraq it is one team, one fight. He did not care what uniform the man next to him had on. More important was the flag on the shoulder of the man covering his back. It is this willingness to reach across our services that we need to foster and feed into our wings, our squadrons and all the way down to the individual.

This is not a new concept. It is captured in our core value, "service before self" and our wingman culture. We all need to look out for each other. When a fellow servicemember is in need, it must be part of our organizational and personal fiber to share the load. It is our willingness to reach out a hand to our fellow brothers in arms that will tell us what kind of person, unit and service we are.

We have answered this call and will continue to do so. But as the challenges continue, we can not become weary and lose focus on our obligation to each other.

We all need to remember that our responsibilities are much greater than those required by our particular specialty. Just like the Soldier in combat, we must have each others back, no matter what patch we wear. Our mission depends on it.