When is enough going to be enough?
President Abraham Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”
This is the mantra I learned while attending the Defense Information School. I learned that Public Affair’s mission was to highlight the unmatched professionalism of its airmen to garner support of the American taxpayer.
Today the Air Force released the 2016 Holiday Flashmob primer, where the band participates in the mannequin challenge. I had to ask myself, “How is this highlighting our great airmen … how is this exhibiting fiscal responsibility to the American taxpayer?
As I read stories about pilot shortage, and broken aircraft that can’t fly, or sympathize with maintainers who have to cannibalize one jet to fix another, I watch in dis-belief as the Honorable (title, not adjective) Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, stands motionless grinning like a giddy little schoolgirl.
There is no cause behind this “challenge.” No charity is reaping the benefit of this theatrical idiocracy. It’s just another pompous display of a Public Affairs program more likened to a self-licking ice cream cone than a professional organization.
Like I’ve stated before, I am not questioning the dedication it takes to be a musician. I’ll even acquiesce a bit on the hundreds of thousands of dollars squandered on keeping these bands as part of the active duty force. What I cannot stomach is a leadership culture that places more value on social media hashtags than it does the solvency of the very machine it pretends to represent.
My personal challenge goes out to Air Force leadership. I challenge each of you … from Secretary James to clueless Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey … to take off your blinders, step away from the “everything is peachy keen, it’s all okay” narrative and look at yourselves in the mirror. Leadership is a privilege, and good followers respond well to good leadership. Take the privilege you’ve been given and make a damn difference. Leaders provide followers with guidance. Leaders provide followers with the tools they need to do their jobs. Leaders who lead by example earn the respect of their followers, which fosters esprit-de-corps, morale and pride of service.
Do you accept my challenge Madame Secretary, or are you just going to stand there like a mannequin and do nothing?
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