Air Force Culture: the Vector is Still Wrong in 2015

The graphic below was posted on the Air Force’s official facebook feed on New Year’s Eve with the caption “this year has flown by, and we’re already gearing up for new challenges and opportunities in 2015. What are your goals for the upcoming year?”


I’ve been warning throughout 2014 that the Air Force’s culture is warping it into an institution that cannot effectively perform the mission. Here, the Air Force crystallizes this problem. It starts with a focus on the individual rather than the team, transitions into a misapprehension of what mentorship is about, encourages dabbling in “programs” rather than mastering the mission, and then caps it all off with exhortations of square checking and misprioritization.

I must say, this is a sobering and unfortunate reflection of what we our nation’s Air Force has become and how it sees itself as we ring in another year. Not sure how many more years of this culture can be countenanced without failing the nation.

Leaders, you need to step forward and end this season of madness before it’s too late. You can start by surfing over to the USAF facebook page and registering your thoughts.

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John Q’s resolution for 2015 is to spend more time on reform recommendations. In that spirit, here’s a suggested re-write.

1. Continue to improve duty performance. Make the squadron’s goals your own goals. Study hard, and let promotions take care of themselves.

2. Develop and deepen relationships with teammates. Mentorship flows naturally from meaningful interaction with teammates and professional colleagues.

3. Be strong enough in duty performance that the commander considers adding more to your plate. Leadership beyond primary duty is (or should be) a signal that the chain of command thinks you’re good enough to handle more without slipping where it matters.

4. Develop your mind. Don’t worry about checking squares, just worry about learning and let the squares check themselves as a result.

5. Stay fit. Give the physical fitness component as much time as you can spare in consideration of competing priorities and your own inclinations. Make sure you can pass an assessment any day of the year.

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With genuine wishes for a superb 2015 through air and space . . . but concerned that the initial vector may be taking us further off course.

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