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If you take care of your troops, they will take care of you

F. E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. -- In my 30 years of service many things have changed, but one thing has remained constant: the professionalism of our Airmen.

I have been in many circles when today's Airmen have been compared with the Airmen of the past in a negative light. This perception bothers me, because with a few exceptions, the Airmen of today are virtually the same and in most instances better than those of years past.

Throughout the past decade, the Air Force has seen a series of changes that have affected almost every facet of our profession, but our Airmen have stayed the course. They still work long hours that require a tremendous amount of sacrifice, dedication and self discipline.

In security forces, many of our Airmen can't quantify what they do on a daily basis until something goes wrong. Yet across the globe every day, Airmen come to work and ensure the success of the Air Force's mission. Why do our Airmen do this?

It is my belief that Airmen instinctively perform when challenges present themselves. Their performance increases when leaders, at all levels, ensure proper motivation is instilled. Sometimes when motivation lacks, Airmen can slip and become content with substandard performance. As successful leaders, we must take care for our troops and get to the root of any and all problems.

It's easy to show up and tell everyone how much you care, but when your actions speak louder than words, very little else needs to be said. As leaders, we must constantly ensure every troop knows what they mean to the mission and solicit feedback at every opportunity. These actions solidify the leadership and followership bond.

In turn, our Airmen repay us not with words, but with action. Besides accomplishing the daily mission, an Airman is more likely to step up when it really counts. For instance, the 90th Security Forces Group has made headlines for our ability to remain DUI and rollover free. Why us? What truly is the underlying factor? I'll be the first to say the 90th SFG leadership has a vested interest in their success. When we put them first in our minds, they will do what is right and take care of each other at the same time.

In today's expeditionary Air Force, the challenges of leadership have never been greater. Yet I have found success in each of my three commands by making my first priority my Airmen. As I have demonstrated my commitment to them, they in turn have accomplished the mission successfully in spite of the continued demands of the Global War on Terror.