Together we must develop exceptional Air Force Reserve leaders

I recently had the opportunity to meet with my top senior leaders to discuss a broad range of critical challenges affecting our Air Force Reserve. Reflecting afterwards, there was one underlying truth that stood out during every discussion: Reserve Citizen Airmen are our greatest strength.

Each of you provides the air, space, cyber and support expertise necessary to counter future competitors. But without the proper programs and policies in place to care for, train and develop each Airman as a leader, we cannot be an effective fighting force. So how do we ensure we are developing our Citizen Airmen to become exceptional Air Force Reserve leaders? I believe it’s through emphasizing a culture of trust, optimizing the performance potential of our Airmen and building upon our outstanding workforce talent.

If we achieve success in all three areas, I am confident we will shape the leaders of the future who will pilot the agile, combat-credible forces needed to deter war and project lethality, while protecting the security of our nation and allies.

America’s Reserve Citizen Airmen offer an agile and diverse advantage over our competitors through the expertise and experience they bring from their time within the civilian sector. This diverse talent provides the Air Force Reserve with leaders who are able to better understand and respond to changing mission sets and are prepared to innovate, stay ahead of the threat and lead our forces during times of peace and war.

It is important that we retain and grow our Airmen by providing opportunities to lead others, ensuring members pursue career development opportunities and attend required professional military education.

In addition, participation in events or assignments that increase understanding of interagency decision-making processes, alliances and coalitions will further enhance our Airmen’s understanding of the joint environment. These opportunities will help prepare members for the next level of responsibility in their careers and develop the critical thinking and communication skills necessary as leaders.

Developing leaders requires that we enable the full potential of our Reserve Citizen Airmen. Unleashing their performance potential increases mission effectiveness and retains their operational talent.

Rotate individuals through different jobs and challenge them with unfamiliar ones. They will gain exposure to different experiences and obtain new expertise and skill sets. Let your Airmen take risks, but mentor at every opportunity that presents itself. Even failure offers valuable leadership lessons that can add new skills, improve confidence and refine decision-making processes. Empowering them with trust will produce great dividends.

Trust is critical in our business and the cornerstone to combat effectiveness. It hinges on the frequent reflection and commitment of our core values – integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Frequent reflection of these foundational principles will preserve the common bond which guides all of us as individuals, Airmen and public servants.

Continue to cultivate trust by effectively communicating across all ranks, leading by example and taking care of each other. We live and operate in an environment that is measured by the results of our actions, encouraging a commitment to excellence ensures we continue to build on trustworthy relationships formed at the foundational level.

Together, it is our responsibility to develop exceptional Air Force leaders – Reserve Citizen Airmen who stand ready to rapidly address complex conflicts and who are willing to adapt without jeopardizing our foundational principles.

Preserving a culture of trust, leveraging the strengths and diversity of our Airmen and supporting our workforce talent will result in strong Air Force Reserve leaders who ensure we continue to provide lethality and unwavering defense to compete, deter and win in any contested environment.

We owe this to our nation, joint teammates, allies and ourselves. I ask that you continue to be the best Airmen this country puts forward, standing ready to answer our nation’s call.