One big Air Force

By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.
Air Force Social Media

It’s not a foreign principle in the Air Force to understand that we participate, train, educate and support one another as fellow Airmen. In my opinion, it’s truly part of what makes us the world’s greatest Air Force.

But what does that really look like?

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work side-by-side with members of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. I’ve seen firsthand that there isn’t any difference in our performance, standards and expectations for one another as Total Force Airmen. I’m glad to be a part of a truly diverse organization where it’s really important to embody all aspects of the organization to grow and become better in the future.

“We are absolutely committed to creating a fully integrated operationally relevant and capable total force,” said Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff. “One Air Force.”

During my deployments to the Middle East, I’ve had the privilege to really learn from my Guard and Reserve brothers and sisters in the Air Force. I learned that they carried pride in the uniform and their respective component. What drew them to the Air National Guard or Reserve was the same thing that drew me — wanting to serve my country in an honorable way. Not only did I work with them, but I also lived with them in a deployed environment.

When we worked long days and nights pulling security detail on the flight line or providing input about current operations to our leadership, we realized that in order for unit cohesion and morale to improve it would be imperative for us to address the issues that stood in front of us.

We talked about our different experiences and jobs in the Air Force. We shared old war stories while at our current war. The conversation became a bridge that would allow us to discover the root of our issues with one another. Simply, I had brought my negative bias and stereotypes about Guardsmen and Reservists into this environment. Those thoughts didn’t help bring us together faster but became a barrier for me personally.

One conversation led me to discover that I had a misconception of what the other parts of the Air Force did. I admitted to my fellow Airmen that I assumed I knew their mission and vision.

“We are held to AFIs and regulations just like Active Duty,” said Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Charlette Castro.

We are all Airmen, and it’s our duty to incorporate the institutional competencies of the Air Force. We also need to remember that our responsibility to brothers and sisters in the profession of arms isn’t segregated to active duty only. It encompasses the Total Force.

I’m glad to be part of a truly diverse organization where it’s really important to embody all aspects of the organization in order to grow and become better.