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Readiness or Resilient Leaders... Which Takes Precedence?

Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White keeps in touch with a few of his fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen via teleconference while teleworking from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Senior Master Sgt. Kori Conaway)

Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White keeps in touch with a few of his fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen via teleconference while teleworking from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Senior Master Sgt. Kori Conaway)

Reserve Citizen Airman Family,

Last year was a tough one for us, as we had to grapple with several natural disasters that limited our ability to train and equip, which had a direct impact on readiness.

It was also one of the most emotionally challenging times in many of our military careers, as we lost more than 30 members of our family – more than half to suicide.

The boss and I were extremely relieved to hit the refresh button this year; but already this year has taken a drastic turn from what we expected. While we can often predict the behavior of our adversaries, we can’t always predict what Mother Nature will throw our way.

Leaders across the command are committed to taking care of Airmen, our families and the American people by being ready and resilient. But which one takes precedence is the million dollar question. Here’s my take on it.

Readiness: Readiness has and will always be a top priority. Unfortunate as it has been, this pandemic has shown Air Force Reserve Command’s ability to respond to any global threat. During the initial stages of the outbreak, America turned to AFRC as March Air Reserve Base, California, became the first location on U.S. soil to accept American citizens evacuated from China. All the while, we continued to generate air power by flying combat missions and providing combat-ready forces to combatant commanders worldwide.

No ifs, ands or buts about it, we were only able to accomplish this by maintaining a state of readiness. As I write this commentary, Reserve Citizen Airmen are “boots on the ground” in the state of New York taking their readiness to fight and defeat the COVID-19 global enemy.

Resiliency: It’s easy to equate “resiliency” with “resilient leaders” by sheer connotation. It’s also easy to automatically equate “resiliency” or “resilient leader” with some form of personal struggle. Although personal struggle may be a facet of being a resilient leader, personal resiliency or struggle on its own is only one aspect.

Not every leader has or will endure personal struggle, a life-altering event or extreme hardship. Likewise, not every member who has faced personal struggle or hardship will automatically be the type of resilient leader we need him or her to be during times of adversity.

More often than not, the true test of being a resilient leader is how we lead an organization of Airmen through difficult times, like we currently find ourselves in. What we are doing in New York and in communities across America takes resiliency.

Readiness and Resiliency: Regardless of location, situation or time, we will continue to face hardships and challenges on a global scale. Leaders must possess the emotional intelligence, resiliency and steady hand to lead Airmen through uncharted territory.

Regardless of the domain, our adversaries and those who wish to do us harm will continue to threaten our way of life. In order to preserve and protect the freedom and liberty all Americans enjoy, we must maintain a constant state of readiness by being resilient.

So when asked which takes precedence – readiness or resiliency – the answer to me is quite clear: it’s both.

As always, it is a true honor and privilege to serve as your command chief. Please feel free to share your comments with me via FaceBook or at AFRC.CCC@us.af.mil.          ■