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Relationships matter

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --

“Good leaders are people who have a passion to succeed … To become successful leaders, we must first learn that no matter how good the technology or how shiny the equipment, people-to-people relations get things done in our organizations. People are the assets that determine our success or failure. If you are to be a good leader, you have to cultivate your skills in the arena of personal relations.”

General Ronald R. Fogleman

Former Air Force Chief of Staff

 

In terms of Air Force assets, none are more important than our people. Only 0.4 percent of the United States population raise their right hands to serve, so it is important to not lose sight of that. To that end, understanding the role relationships play in the lives of our Airmen is vital.

In July of 2017, I deployed as a Deputy Group Commander to Iraq as part of the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group: a dynamic organization that worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Security Cooperation to assist in Iraq’s revitalization of its own air force to bolster its national defense capabilities. Our group functioned in both advisory and operational capacities and managed several aerial port locations throughout the country. As a part of that group, over 200 Airmen, representing over 40 different Air Force careers, worked directly with Iraqis on a daily basis and shared their lives with them every single day.

When I was slated to serve as an air advisor, I wasn’t sure what it would entail. Little did I know – but rapidly learned – that my role was not only to assist my boss in leading the group but also to be a direct advisor to the Iraqi Air Force Chief and Vice Chief of Staff: a rare leadership opportunity that I will forever remember and cherish.

Establishing real and lasting relationships is the key to mission success.

Our Airmen are potentially in harm’s way every day, and it is imperative that they build upon previously established relationships with their Iraqi counterparts. Although the caliphate the Islamic State wished to establish in Syria and Iraq has effectively been vanquished, Iraq remains a volatile place. With our Airmen routinely going outside the wire to conduct advising operations, international cooperation and collaboration with our Iraqi counterparts is that much more important.

Although I’ve used an international example to illustrate the importance of relationships, the same principle applies here at home. As vital as relationships are for air advisors overseas, the relationships you create here at Dover are just as crucial, and the bonds you build, both on- and off-base, move the rapid global mobility mission forward – every single day.

So let me ask you, do relationships matter? You bet they do!