Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Straight Talk from a Chief

Sometimes we receive emails full of wisdom and born out of experience and service to our nation. We would like to highlight this one … from a retired Chief Master Sergeant - CMSgt (Ret) William (Hack) Alexander, Iowa Park, Texas.

Several things to notice from this simple note. First the author is informed - not only about the Air Force - but all the Services. He talks with various groups about national issues. He is passionately in favor of a strong national defense, … and he was a maintainer in the Air Force … and struggled with aging equipment. Finally, he writes simply and in a straight-forward manner … as only a maintainer and a chief would. You can find them here:


Kraston Scott said...

Excellent letter from CMSgt (Ret) William (Hack) Alexander, titled "We Must Be Prepared". Hopefully our Nation's leaders will read his letter. E-8 (retired) Kraston Scott, Bellevue Nebraska.

Buzz said...

Well said. I find it fascinating as a new Lieutenant in the Air Force that the same problems of today have happened a few decades ago. I take some comfort in knowing that the problems were solved then but what does that say about today? How can we continue to repeat the past? As a future leader, I must make it my duty to study and understand these problems now so that when I do get in a position to make a real change, that I am ready. “Luck” is preparation meets opportunity and I must do my part now. Thank you fellow AFA members.

RonaldLBaker said...

CMSgt(Ret) Alexander is a true American and a well earned "maintainer." His years of experience tells us that we need to appraise our today's leaders the importance to honor the basis of our US Constitution, i.e., to insure we have a strong defense of our citizens.

Recent historical happenings in our lifetime: September 9, 2001 and Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 have taught us that we were not prepared for attacks from others. Coming out of a depression, our thoughts were not of having a strong defense, but to have the resources to feed our families. Today, we are engaged in losing our quality of life as we become to know it. My thoughts today are with CMSgt Alexander and others who have served this fine Nation in various US uniforms, we are entering a period of inexperienced leadership, but one that is dedicated to get this country back to putting food on the table; having health care for all. Survival needs are once upon us, and it seems, the first to go is cutting national defense. If we are not to create the same environment we had back in 1940, we need to tell our story to anyone who will listen, especially are national leaders, we will not tolerate another attack on our country, at least not in our lifetime.

Thank you CMSgt Alexander for taking the high road and sharing your worries. We all need to tell our stories of concern like CMSgt Alexander to our kids, grandchildren, our friends, and most importantly letters to our congresspeople and to the White House, in hope our letter or one of our brothers in arms letter's are picked by the President and/or congressional members, for them to rethink why they have been elected and to serve their spoken oath to honor the US Constitution and do their part in assuring we have a strong national defense. Thanks to those who have served and continue to serve our great country.

retired old goat said...

I know and worked with CMSgt Alexander at Torrejon, Spain. I am also a retired CMSgt. Hack hit it on the head. It was always a struggle to be a good maintainer. You were not only expected to be a trainer and supervisor, but you had to impart your experience to keep "them flying". It is a shame that our leadership has taken the USAF down this road. Wake-up!
CMSgt (ret) David Nusz

Anonymous said...

We do have the best Air Force as a CMSgt I know what we have fought for we need congress and the American people to get out and support our Armed forces we are fast becoming weak get out and support our troops This also goes for our President take off the kids glove stand up to Nancy Plosis and her crew if you don't do it now you are asking for OUR America as we know her now to be a thing of the past Do the job you said you would and get your head out of the Sand
CMSgt P>O> Baer .

A Man said...

This is not a message of praise nor a condemnation. It is my opinion. I believe that CMSgt Alexander's concern is a very real one. I don't see the Air Force surviving as an independent branch of the military.

I thank Providence regularly for BG Billy Mitchell's courage and vision when his peers thought that he was being insolent, intransigent, and not a team player. I am sure that many of his peers went to their temporal fate feeling stupid for later attending a ceremony that awarded BG Mitchell a Medal of Honor for something that they did not support. It is important to remember that BG Mitchell worked within the system to change a mindset. Ultimately it cost him dearly. But, he worked forcefully within the system.

There is an intellectual malaise rampant within our Air Force. It is the malaise that is better described when worded as "I rather ask for forgiveness than ask for permission?" I admire, respect, and expect guts from the military, especially its leaders so I am not condemning acts of defiance in extraordinary situations. If one asks for forgiveness for doing something outside of established mandates, channels, expectations, etc, then it is because that someone recognized a problem and worked to get around it. This is commendable in emergency circumstances but not in all circumstances. If there is a problem and no one has to professional acumen to address that problem head on, deal with it, and solve it, then that person is putting self above service. I assert, and numerous publications will support my assertion, that BG Mitchell did not contemplate the thought of asking for forgiveness, rather than ask permission.. Can I make it any plainer?

If an air force commissioned officer, let alone a one, two, three, or four star general, has to or believes that he or she has to ask for permission to accomplish something a light has to go on, and it should go on somewhere, alerting that there is an abnormal situation at hand. Either the person making the request is wrong, or a process is wrong. Either way, a potential problem or hazard has been identified. What can be done about it so as not to ensure that “permission asking” doesn't become an established pattern of action?

This type of unspoken behavior is cynical and unproductive. It creates an "I know best and they don't" attitude that results in momentarily getting around systematic or operational problems. Unfortunately in our chosen profession, this type of behavior when practiced by our leaders is demoralizing and plants the seeds for failure. Example: the Air Force has spent millions of dollars advertising that people are our greatest resources. What in the world would possess a leader to set aside people and the infrastructure to support the greatest Air Force resource for the sake of a weapon system?
Does our leadership actually think that no one is aware of what is going on? Our leadership mindset can only allow for one good idea at a time? People or weapon systems? We need to reboot.

CMSgt Alexander wrote about fighting a war for 19 years. I believe that he was referring to a war of ideas over the modernization of existing weapon systems and the integration of new ones. We just don't have the type of intellectual firepower, and ethos of commitment to what we say are our core values, to fight such wars. In the recent past, our leaders have consistently walked away from a problem by accepting modifications to aging aircrafts, lower counts in the order of battle, and compromises in the acquisition process. Yes, it has been noticed. They rather have asked for forgiveness than ask for permission. H.I. Chavez, C-Springs CO.

Enrico Valentia said...

We must strive alongside Chief Alexander for the same cause – that of maintaining the aerospace power our Air Force has been known through the decades.

Those of us at AFA Gen. Robert F. Travis Chapter 113 in Fairfield, California, are thoroughly involved in this issue of the military budget. I, as president of Chapter 113, have addressed the military budget issue in contacts with our Chapter members and prospective members. I, as an Air Force pilot with 15,000 flying hours under my belt, admire William Alexander’s thoughts and clarity of expression. He is on the right track and knows from experience the dangers should America be unable to deter threats from both free-wheeling terrorists and rogue nations.

Chief Alexander has the same thoughts that we at AFA Chapter 113 have. Our chapter meets at Travis Air Force Base for an 11 a.m. buffet and a 12 noon meeting, each third Friday of the month. The Air Force budget has been a primary and ever-increasing concern of ours for over six months.

We must fight for our country, that it may be defended with foresight and insight, and not hindsight.

We heartily concur with the Chief’s remarks on the issues that he has addressed.

We are grateful for the AFA and its prime role in bringing the message to all who will listen that there presently is a grave need to deter our enemies from further aggression and threats against our Homeland. Of highest priority must be the need of the American people to be protected from aggressors and all those who wish us evil and threaten our opportunity, as a Nation, to dwell in safety.

Enrico R. Valentia
President, AFA Gen. Robert F. Travis Chapter 113

Aurora said...

Contrary to popular belief in the mainstream media and the majority of liberals that I know, the world is not a safer place because the cold war is over. With the U.S. backing away from military domination, we are leaving a vacuum that WILL be filled by another nation. That nation will not necessarily be friendly to the U.S. in terms of freedoms that we take for granted on a day to day basis.

History is chock full of examples of weak nations being taken over by others with their way of life changed forever. The only way to guarantee our freedom and way of life is to maintain our military. S.R., Capt, USAF (Ret)

Unknown said...

After 23 years in the Navy working on and flying on the P3 aircraft Hack is telling it like it is. Without the full support that ALL services need to defend this nation we will all be speaking a different language.
R.W. Johnson
ADC USN Retired

AL EUCARE said...

CMSgt Alexander is right on the mark re UNPREPAREDNESS. The threats of today, like those of pre-WWII, are far from our collective consciousness. Strong standing Active military forces to meet and overcome threats to U.S. security, whether from nation states or not is the first and foremost responsibility of our national elected leaders. Absent their response to such threats, we the people must replace them. This is the only "Do It Yourself Solution". Al Eucare with servce in Army (WW II), Air Force (Korean Conflict), & Navy (Cold War).

perennial1 said...

Chief Alexander's post was well-thought out and written. It would be nice if personal copies could be forwarded to the President, SecDef, AF Leaders, and each and every member of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Hopefully, these copies would help them to be wiser when protecting our great country.

Thanks Chief for putting into words the concerns of many of us.

Unknown said...

From one retired chief to another, I agree with everything you have pointed out. I spent 3 tours in Viet Nam in Recce, and each time upon departure the same question was ask; What lessons have we learned and easch time we responded with basically your same thoughts and concerns, better and newer equipment and stay with the state of the Art.Yet after and during every conflict our leaders, state the same old rhetoric to expensive, Well in my opinion the safety and security of our great nation has no price limitations.

Harry W. Biller,USAF, CMS(Retired)Jan 1954 - Sept 1974