Service members understand the term “quality of life” and its importance to morale in the military, but quality of service is just as important, the Air Force chief of staff said here yesterday.
Gen. David L. Goldfein told the Defense Writers Group that airmen closest to the action have the best morale.
“Morale and readiness are inextricably linked, and where you’ll find high readiness, you’ll find high morale,” the general said. “If you were to walk the ramp today at Bagram [Air Base, Afghanistan] or at Kunsan [Air Base, South Korea], you would find morale is pretty high, because we, by design, ensure that they have all they need.”
U.S.-Based Units Pay Price
The units are fully manned. They have the spare parts and supplies they need for immediate operations, Goldfein said. “The supervision is forward, and they are able to generate the kind of air power that we require,” he added. But the budget necessitates that getting that kind of readiness forward means units in the United States must pay the price, the general said.
“We pull that from home bases,” he explained. “If you were to walk the ramp at Dyess [Air Force Base, Texas] or walk the ramp at Mountain Home [Air Force Base, Idaho] or walk some of these places where they are 70 percent manned — and much of the supervision is deployed forward and where we’ve taken the parts, supplies and the things that produce readiness because of the budget — you will find the morale is lowest.”
Officials talk about balancing quality of service and quality of life, Goldfein said. “I’ve never had someone come back from a deployment and say, ‘The best thing about that deployment was the chow, or the room,’” he told the writers. “They will eat and live wherever we put them.”
Pride in Mission
Some airmen are living in rough conditions, and yet there are no complaints, the general said, because they are doing what they signed up to do. They take great pride in the mission and their parts in performing that mission, he added, and they believe they are part of something big — part of “a high-powered team of people that had a mission every day accomplishing something that matters.”
The key is making sure that type of attitude happens not just overseas, but at home stations, Goldfein said.
“I’ve got folks contributing to this fight and the global challenges we face right here at home stations,” he said. “As the chief, I’ve got a lot of things to worry about, but I believe I have one moral obligation, and that is I can never send someone into harm’s way that is not properly organized, trained, equipped and led, and [I must] take care of their families while they are gone.
“That’s my mirror check. That, I’ve got to get right,” he continued. “Everything else, I do the best I can.”