by Lt. Gen. David Goldfein
Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command
Recently, two of our U.S. Air Forces Central Command Airmen were criticized
online by other Airmen for receiving Bronze Star decorations after completion of their
deployments to Afghanistan.
I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the rigorous awards board process and emphasize the meticulous manner in which we ensure each award is justifiable and each recipient is worthy.
We recognize and honor our Airmen for their meritorious and heroic actions.
My AFCENT staff oversees a thorough awards approval process to ensure medals
are presented to only the most commendable candidates. This 20-year
decoration process has a demonstrated history of consistency, and we work
hard to maintain its integrity.
Led by a general officer, the board of combat-experienced colonels and chief master sergeants carefully and deliberately guarantee our Airmen deserve the awards they receive.
I am the final approving authority for each medal.
Every day, our innovative Airmen excel in the deployed environment.
Consider the security forces Airman who helped protect his base from more than 2,500
disgruntled Afghan citizens. He stood his ground, despite suffering detached
retinas, body bruises from thrown rocks and face wounds from high-powered
Or the KC-135 maintainer who worked in minus-20-degree temperatures to
extend the range and flexibility of our combat aircraft, which provide close
air support to protect coalition ground forces battling insurgents.
Or the finance officer who worked alongside special operations forces. She
executed $160 million in operational funds across eight remote forward
operating bases in support of counterinsurgency operations.
Or the combat controller who faced enemy fire and placed himself at grave risk on four
occasions while controlling more than 30 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes.
These are just a few examples of achievements that we reward in AFCENT.
No one Air Force specialty code is any more important than the next in this
theater — it takes the entire team working together to get the job done.
Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez and Tech Sgt. Sharma Haynes are the
bedrock of our organization.
While we face a determined enemy, he is no match for this combined arms
team. Together, with laser-like focus on our mission, with the knowledge
that no challenge we may face is too much for innovative Airmen, and
knowing that our cause is just … we will continue to deliver decisive
airpower for CENTCOM and America.