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It takes Airmen from every specialty to get job done

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. David Goldfein
  • U.S. Air Forces Central commander
Recently, two of our U.S. Air Forces Central Airmen were criticized online by other Airmen for receiving Bronze Stars after completion of their deployments to Afghanistan. I'd like to take this opportunity to explain the rigorous awards board process and emphasize the meticulous manner in which we ensure each award is justifiable and each recipient is worthy.

We recognize and honor our Airmen for their meritorious and heroic actions. My AFCENT staff oversees a thorough awards approval process to ensure medals are presented to only the most commendable candidates. This 20-year decoration process has a demonstrated history of consistency, and we work hard to maintain its integrity. Led by a general officer, the board of combat-experienced colonels and chief master sergeants carefully and deliberately guarantee our Airmen deserve the awards they receive. I am the final approving authority for each medal.

Every day, our innovative Airmen excel in the deployed environment. Consider the security forces Airman who helped protect his base from more than 2,500 disgruntled Afghan citizens. He stood his ground, despite suffering detached retinas, body bruises from thrown rocks and face wounds from high-powered pellet rifles. Or, the KC-135 maintainer who worked in minus 20-degree temperatures to extend the range and flexibility of our combat aircraft, which provide close air support to protect coalition ground forces battling insurgents. Or, the finance officer who worked alongside special operations forces. She executed $160 million in operational funds across eight remote Forward Operating Bases in support of counterinsurgency operations. Or, the combat controller who faced enemy fire and placed himself at grave risk on four occasions while controlling over 30 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes. These are just a few examples of achievements that we reward in AFCENT.

No one AFSC is any more important than the next in this theater -- it takes the entire team working together to get the job done. Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez and Tech Sgt. Sharma Haynes are the bedrock of our organization.

While we face a determined enemy, he is no match for this combined arms team. Together, with laser-like focus on our mission... with the knowledge that no challenge we may face is too much for an innovative Airman... and knowing that our cause is just... we will continue to deliver decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command and America.