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February 2018 Command Trajectory

March 9, 2018

You may think we already touched on excellence last month and you would be right, we did touch on it.  However, we should look a little deeper because General Smith has two components to this area of emphasis.  He would like us to focus on professionalism and staying relevant.  These two are very different items so let’s address professionalism first.   Professionalism is a topic that I often address with cadets and seniors in the briefs I give.  I like to say, “Professionalism—it goes with everything.”  As members of the Civil Air Patrol, we are part of the Total Force.  We have a duty to conduct ourselves with professionalism.  We never know when an errant word or deed will reflect poorly on us, our unit, or our organization.  Being professional does not mean we never relax or have fun.  Being professional means, we always keep in mind who we represent and how our actions might be perceived.  The important word in the last sentence is perceived.  In the age of social media, perception can be difficult to overcome.  I have known cadets and seniors who have chosen to do something without considering the impact and regret it.  I would like to avoid that in the future.  As an activity director at National Blue Beret, I always talked to the cadets and seniors about expectations at the beginning of the event.  I gave them a single line to think about when trying to decide if they should do something or not.  I asked them to consider, “Would this make Col Aye proud of me?”  If the answer was yes, I encouraged them to do it.  If the answer was no, then I encouraged them to avoid it.  For those who wear the Air Force uniform combinations, professionalism is always an important consideration as we wish to be a positive asset for the USAF.  When I think of uniforms and professionalism, I often think of Sergeant Alvin York who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his gallant actions in World War I.  Sergeant York was offered several endorsement deals for various products when he returned to the United States a hero.  He considered them, and they were tempting as he did not have a lot of money.  However, he chose not to accept them, and he told the companies, “This uniform ain’t for sale.”  What a powerful lesson in professionalism and what our actions say about us!  The second part of General Smith’s first pillar is staying relevant.  The cadet program today is not the cadet program I proudly participated in, but it is better and more relevant to the youth we serve.  Emergency services is an area where relevance is even more apparent.  We have seen the decline of the ELT mission and the ground search with new technology like better beacons and Cell Phone Forensics.  That does not mean we do not have missions, it means we must seek them out.  The Syracuse mission, where we escort drones, is a great example of new missions that are relevant today.  We do not tow targets as we did in World War II, but we certainly play the role of targets in our Homeland Defense missions where we help train and test our military partners.  Your challenge this month is what will you do remain relevant?  Will you improve your skills?  Will you begin a new specialty track?  How will you move past the successes of the past and embrace the opportunities of the future?

February saw Col Tom Weston, one of two NCR vice commanders, chair the Nebraska Wing Commander Selection Advisory Committee on 4 February.  He and his team interviewed three candidates as Col Darrell Nelson will complete his term as Nebraska Wing Commander in March.  I also began working to fill some vacancies on the region staff.  Lt Col Don Han of Iowa Wing reached out to share his interest in serving as NCR DCS Aerospace Education.  I am pleased we were able to attract such a well-qualified candidate to the position.  Aerospace Education is one of our three core missions.  I spent some time preparing for the Command Council Meeting that occurred in late February, early March.  We had several tasks to complete before the meeting including

Several promotions and professional development awards were processed in February.  Major Austin Worcester of MO-104 was promoted to lieutenant colonel.  You may recall Austin helped direct the Region Staff College in December.  Austin also serves on the NCR staff in addition to Missouri Wing staff.  Major David Sewell of MO-001 earned the Paul Garber Award.  Cadet Joseph Christenson of MN-012 and Cadet Alex Dvorak of MN-116 earned the General Ira C. Eaker Award.  I enjoy working with Cadet Dvorak on the NCR CAC. 

Iowa Wing conducted a SAREX and conducted AFROTC rides for Iowa State University in February.  South Dakota Wing provided Legislative Day flights, completed AFJROTC orientation flights, and conducted a SAREX in Custer.  North Dakota Wing participated in an ELT search and earned a Find.  Minnesota Wing conducted a missing aircraft search, an ELT search that resulted in a Find, and Homeland Security Missions related to Super Bowl 52.  This is an excellent example of keeping our missions relevant—our work at the Super Bowl the last few years.  Nebraska Wing conducted AFJROTC rides.  Kansas wing flew AFROTC rides for KU, a TOP flight, and drove blood products for the American Red Cross sixteen times.

Next month, we will continue our discussion of Major General Smith’s areas of emphasis and begin the heavy travel season for conferences and events.

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