Losing sleep: CSAF shares what keeps him up at night

  • Published
  • By Capt. Alexis McGee
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
He couldn't sleep.

The sheer thought of disappointing his team: his wingmen, his brothers and sisters in arms, is the thought that keeps him up at night, striving to forge a better U.S. Air Force.

Driven by his determination to be the best wingman he can, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said it's all about having dedication to the people who make this Air Force exceptional.

"There is never a bad day to be the Chief of Staff of the Air Force," said Welsh during a round-table discussion with company grade officers, July 16 at RAF Croughton, United Kingdom. "I get to travel the world and see you. I love you and I love everything you do."

Welsh's commitment to his team was a unifying thread throughout his visit, which brought him face to face with nearly 150 service members from the 501st Combat Support Wing.

"I've known you for about an hour now, but I'd die for you," Welsh said pointing to an Airman in the crowd during his all call. "And I'm just naïve enough to believe you'd do the same for me. That's why we wear this uniform."

The Air Force is different than other jobs, he continued. It requires people to devote not only their time, but potentially their lives to their nation.

Welsh impressed this concept upon the members of the 501st CSW who were present during his round-table discussions and all calls.

First Lt. Sara Esau, 422nd Air Base Group executive officer, internalized Welsh's commitment to the Air Force people.

"Caring for your people is so important," she said. "If a four-star general can take the time out of his schedule to get to know and genuinely care about his people, there's no reason we can't at a supervisor level."

Welsh's devotion to never disappointing his team led him to emphasize his "Three C's:" common sense, communicate better and care more. He encouraged Airmen to use their common sense to step up, step in and forge new and innovative paths toward making the Air Force even stronger.

He also said communication is essential and Airmen at all levels must do a better job of engaging with one another.

"Our Airmen are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram these days," Welsh said. "We need to find better ways to leverage these platforms so our messages are received and understood."

His final tip was to care more. Welsh said if someone's best friend were to walk into his office and not say anything, he would know there was something wrong. He questioned why the same expectation does not exist when it comes to supervisors and their teams. Welsh encouraged all Airmen to fiercely care for one another, like brothers and sisters of a large and diverse family.

He said it is the people who unite us together and make doing the impossible a daily reality. Welsh challenged every Airman in the room to examine not only what they do, how they do, but most importantly why they do it.

With a look of dedication and seriousness in his eyes, Welsh looked at the crowd and passionately explained why he wears the uniform. 

"I don't just like being in the Air Force ... I love being in the Air Force," he said.