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First impressions

  • Published
  • By Col. Andre Briere
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing vice commander
I'd like to thank Col. DeThomas for lending me this space to thank all of you incredible Team MacDill Airmen for giving my family and I such a warm welcome to this amazing base! Our first month here has definitely given us a flavor for how dynamic, busy and wonderful the MacDill and the greater Tampa Bay communities are to live and work in. We feel very lucky to be here, as I'm sure all of you do as well.

One of the great things about military communities is that we get an opportunity to get fresh eyes on our installations and programs every PCS season. Because so many new folks move in and out of our bases each summer, it gives us a chance to hear new perspectives and find out what we look like to Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines that just arrived from other bases around the world. This summer I am one of those new Airmen, and for the remainder of this column I'd like to give you my first impressions of MacDill Air Force Base and its people.

My first day as your new vice happened to coincide with the series of wing "all-calls" Col. DeThomas held on the topic of sexual assault. One of the key phrases he conveyed that day is seared into my memory, and I hope you caught it as well. He said that we as professional Airmen should and must treat each other with "dignity, trust and respect."

If you'll allow me to "geek-out" briefly and draw on my academic interest in philosophy and ethics, this concept of basing ethical behavior on the dignity of the individual has a deep history in western philosophy. It is related to the notion first espoused by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant of never using other people as a "means" to an end, but instead always respecting them and acting in ways that maximize their dignity and autonomy. In other words, dignity, trust and respect describe the sacred bond we have with each other as an Air Force family. It is the very basis of ethical behavior. It is also the core of the contract that our military has with the American people.

American families send their sons and daughters into the military, specifically the Air Force, because they believe their children will be treated with fairness and respect as they learn to work in cohesive units able to defend the United States. Break that bond of trust and our "all-volunteer" force ceases to function properly (in terms of recruiting, retention and etc.). In this regard, the problem of sexual assault in our military goes to the very core of our character as a service and profession. I hope you all will commit Col. DeThomas' words to memory as I have.

That was a powerful and moving first day on the job. Since that day, Chief Mazzone and I (as the two newest members of the wing leadership team) have had the privilege of visiting many of you at your squadrons and agencies. I know I speak for both of us when I say that we have been blown away by the amazing professionalism and innovation of both the 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing. In nearly every office and shop on this installation, active duty and reserve Airmen work together side-by-side and are indistinguishable in their professionalism and effectiveness. Team MacDill has taken total force integration to a level that I have never seen at any other base in our Air Force...truly impressive!

Cathy and I are looking forward to meeting you and your families as we become fully integrated into Team MacDill. As a new guy just hitting the ground, my first impression is incredibly positive. It is a true honor and privilege to work alongside you and to continue to fulfill our wing motto of "Parati Defendere"...Ready to Defend.