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Am I a uniter or a divider?

By Lt. Col. James Kafer 2nd Force Support Squadron commander

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In our Air Force careers, we're often reminded that we're part of a team. We all think we understand it in our own way, but how do we apply that in our daily activities? I think the real point is that we're part of a united team. So how do we demonstrate our participation in this united team in our day-to-day lives?

We have often heard divisive statements in our day-to-day business. We hear them all the time between operations and maintenance, support and operations, civilian and military, enlisted and officer, sons and daughters...the list goes on. Yet we all have one Department of Defense, Air Force and Barksdale mission to accomplish in support of our national defense.

How do you react when you hear or when you're tempted to make divisive statements?

One way to avoid the temptation to divide is to increase your knowledge and understanding of our mission at all levels, and how you and your organization contribute to the mission. With increased understanding of how you and your organization fit in the bigger scheme, you will be able to communicate well with others more effectively.

The next logical step is to try and understand the view of others around you...to "walk in their shoes." Once you have a better understanding of your mission and can communicate it to those around you, a better appreciation of the bigger mission is easier.

The bigger challenge is responding to others when we hear divisive statements. The easy way out is to walk away or go-with-the-flow of the conversation, which is what most of us do. Yet, we all know that's not the correct response. The correct response is to appropriately confront this issue and take the opportunity to remind our teammates that we're all supporting one common mission¬--we just have different parts of that mission.

None of us can complete the mission on our own. We all rely on each other to provide the best combat capability in support of our nation's defense. The next time you hear divisive statements ask yourself, "Am I a uniter? Or am I a divider?" How can you make a positive difference?