Choices: Incirlik and your future

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Collins
  • 39th Security Forces Squadron commander
When I received my orders to come to Incirlik, I was amazed when several senior noncommissioned officers mentioned they had started their careers here and spoke very fondly of their time at the "Lik," 15 or 20 years ago. I wondered why they regarded their assignments here as the very best of their careers.

It is about choices.

I have the privilege of working with the youngest members of our Air Force. The demographics of the 39th Security Forces Squadron show more than 60 percent of the cops at Incirlik are on their first duty assignment. That means that two of every three security forces members are between 18 and 21 years old and have less than a year and a half time in service.

Young people bring a lot of energy to an organization. They arrive proud of their accomplishments in basic training and technical school and are ready to do the mission. Their whole world has changed in the last few months. For many, this is the first time a parent is not watching them on a daily basis. These young men and women are now truly "on their own." Choices are coming at them non-stop.

I have a one-on-one conversation with every new Airman and tell them that, in the future, they can look back at their years at Incirlik and consider them the very best of their careers. But, being honest, I also tell them they have the choice to ruin their career here.

I don't believe anyone plans on making wrong choices. Not one of them thought "I can't wait to get to Incirlik so I can drink myself into oblivion, make a total fool of myself and get an Article 15!" I believe each of them came here to do their duty and serve our nation.

There are so many right choices to make at this stage: all new Airmen can work hard to complete their career development courses, study diligently for their on-the-job evaluations, get involved in sports and community activities and volunteer to help out around the base. And I haven't even begun to talk about the travel and cultural activities in this great country.

Making the right choices now allows us to look back on the "Lik" as one of the very best times of our career.