Commentary: Thinking Independently … Together

By Lt. Col. Joshua Coakley

When you think about diversity, you probably think first about variations in racial and ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, culture, lifestyle, experiences and interests. When people who embody these differences coexist together with a mutual understanding of a common goal, the result is always more positive than the outcome of too many like-minded individuals working to resolve an issue – which is why our Air Force is so special.

Dover Air Force Base is also special.

If you stop to think and look around, I think you’ll see that our wing is incredibly diverse – we bring a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives to endless roles throughout the wing, ultimately resulting in our ability to succeed in an increasingly complex global environment.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said, “Recruiting and retaining diverse Airmen cultivates innovation. Like different aircraft and missions make up one Air Tasking Order, different people make the best teams when integrated purposefully together.”

His sentiments speak directly to Dover AFB – to include the Wing Staff Agencies. This incredibly diverse group of teams and individuals work together to navigate numerous challenges, all with the common goal of providing support, service and resources to support the wing’s mission.

Even though I had been a part of a wing staff in another assignment, as well as here at Dover AFB, it wasn’t until I became director of staff that I realized just how diverse our Wing Staff Agencies truly are, not only from the standpoint of the various career fields and mission sets, but also the unique mix of active-duty and civilian Airmen. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with this diverse group of people who all think independently – together – each day, and I wanted to share a brief overview of our Wing Staff Agencies and the role that they play in supporting and enabling our wing’s mission.

From our AMC Museum and Historian preserving our heritage; to our Chaplains and Community Support team supporting resiliency and caring for Airmen and families; the Command Post providing 24/7/365 command and control of base operations; the 436th Comptroller Squadron (finance) ensuring our people are paid and the mission and facilities are funded; the Drug Demand Reduction Program fostering a drug-free environment; our Equal Opportunity team cultivating an environment of respect; Information Protection managing information, personnel and industrial security programs; the Innovation Team (“Bedrock”) developing creative solutions to base problems; the Inspector General planning and executing inspection and exercises while also addressing grievances; the Judge Advocate General (legal) team providing legal advice and expertise to command teams; Plans and Programs (XP) maintaining various military plans and supporting readiness; Protocol providing support to events, distinguished visitors and our fallen heroes; Public Affairs driving awareness both within and outside of Dover AFB; Safety supporting mishap prevention; and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and Violence Prevention teams working to eliminate sexual assault and other forms of violence, as well as providing support when these terrible acts do happen, the Wing Staff Agencies comprise one of many diverse groups contributing to the mission at Dover AFB. 

It’s important to preserve your independence while working together with your fellow Airmen. Every Airman at Dover AFB is diverse in their own way, and our differences bring something unique to the table – making us stronger and better suited to tackle the challenges facing our nation.

Lt. Col. Joshua Coakley is 436th Airlift Wing Director of Staff.