Diversity: An Air Force strength

  • Published
  • By Col. "Tip" Stinnette
  • 39th Air Base Wing Commander
This Sunday I attended four different services in our chapel, and over the coming weeks I look forward to joining the other faiths of our community in worship. During the day I was struck by how similar each service was while appealing to a wide diversity of convictions and worship cultures.

We come from different places and have different customs, worship priorities, educational and life experiences. When we come to the Air Force, each of us brings fresh ideas and new approaches. This is diversity.

Rather than fear it, we should embrace diversity as a strength. Some of us fear diversity because we think we are talking about race or gender, and we are to a degree, but it is so much more.

We are all Airmen, and we have to get out of our comfort zones. We have to be role models for people who do not look like us.

Diversity means equal opportunity and access, not equal outcomes. At the end of the day, performance counts, not privilege. You will find Airmen of all races and both sexes. They wear the same uniform that you and I do. It says U.S. Air Force on it. Think about diversity and its strength. Talk about it; do not walk away from it.

The notion of "Fit to Fight" does not mean we need to be gym rats or look like body builders. A person's productivity depends upon maintaining a balance among family, community, job and spirit. Choosing an entity to anchor your spirit is an individual decision. Whatever it is, it is usually bigger than self and enriching. And this was the common thread I noticed between the four services I attended Sunday.

Fitness is multidimensional. We must seek fitness of mind, emotion, spirit, body, and balance that within the physics of our demanding daily lives. There is no single recipe for success as the approach and demands of striking this balance is as diverse as the number of people that make up our Air Force and more specifically our installation team.

Our strength as a team lies in the aggregation of our diversity. Our differences are what make us unique and special. The collection of those differences focused toward a common goal is what generates our awesome power, in a word, synergy, the effect of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. In order to unleash this awesome power we must respect and celebrate our differences while seeking to find common ground.

For us Airmen, that is easy, it's the mission. From generating C-17s and KC-135s, to operating our geographically separated units while supporting national interests we have plenty of common ground to work on together which will ultimately be the benefactor of our collective diversities.

Our community is stronger and richer for its differences. Embrace them, applaud them, leverage them and apply them toward the mission. Bring your courage, conviction and communication!