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Welsh: Airmen Should Use Common Sense in Approaching Missions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D., Nov. 27, 2013 – Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody told airmen at the 28th Bomb Wing here yesterday that they need to use common sense as they go about their duties.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Davidson, 319th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, briefs Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, center, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., Nov. 26, 2013. The briefing, which focused on how the squadron provides for the mission, was part of the second day of a visit by senior leaders to the base. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Xavier Navarro

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“No one knows your jobs better than you do,” the general told about 1,000 airmen gathered in the base’s Pride Hanger today. “You are the experts in your missions.”

Common sense would dictate that if airmen run across something in their duties that doesn’t make sense, then they should suggest better ways to do them, Welsh said. “If it’s a policy, or a guideline, or an [Air Force Instruction], or a reporting requirement, and you can’t figure out why it makes sense to be doing it, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing it,” the general said. “If it doesn’t match common sense then I don’t care what it says in the AFI, let’s talk about it.”

There is enough to do, the general said, without blindly following guidelines or instructions that may have been in place for more than 20 years. Airmen need to identify things that don’t make sense and bring them to supervisors and commanders.

Supervisors and commanders owe these young airmen the respect and courtesy to listen, Welsh said. “When your young airmen or NCOs or young officers come to you and say, ‘I don’t understand why we are doing things this way,’ pay attention,” the general said.

“Our young NCOs and officers are bright, they are savvy, they are just better,” he said. “Listen to what they have to say. If what they say makes common sense, even if it disagrees with an AFI, let’s look at the AFI and change it.”

Welsh stressed that all airmen must take ownership of this responsibility. “Don’t be afraid to speak up,” he told the airmen.

Welsh talked about the 30-day Every Dollar Counts campaign that the Air Force held earlier this year. “We did that campaign so I could ask this question: Why over 30 days did 11,000 airmen have to go to a website to offer a good idea?” he asked. “We launched the campaign to see if there were ideas out there, where did they come from, who they relate to and why weren’t they coming out in discussions.”

A few of the ideas were just bad ideas, the general said. “A whole lot of them were good ideas,” he said. “A huge percentage of them are wing-level and below.”

These are ideas that should bubble up from the wings, but airmen don’t feel comfortable putting them forward, Welsh said. “They don’t think their supervisors or next level supervisors want them to make waves or their commanders will listen to them,” he said.

Welsh again urged every airman to feel free to put forward ideas and every supervisor and commander to listen. “We should encourage the input,” he said. “Where there is a good idea we need to jump all over it. And your wing commander can make these decisions. He can decide what makes sense and if he decides it makes more sense your way, then he has the authority to tell you guys to change it.”

The general told the airmen that he will practice what he preaches: he has told the Air Staff in the Pentagon to include the common sense test in every decision they make.


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Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, his wife, Betty, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody pose for a photo on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., Nov. 25, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez  
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