"Thoughts from the Running Trail" - Appreciating our Families and Friends

The Sgt. Maj. and I made our way to the chow hall after seeing our AFRICOM Commander General Rodriguez and Command Sergeant Major Bohn off from their visit here.   As we sat and ate, we talked about the visit.  The conversation drifted to something that the general and command sergeant major had discussed with us many times: our families. It is important that we take time to let our families know just how much we appreciate them and thank them for their support and continued leadership.  In our line of work we focus on the mission because it is vital and lives are depending on it, but our families are also a vital part of our support systems.

Our parents, grandparents, spouses, children, siblings, and close friends serve alongside us.  For many of us, it’s a two-way street.  We need support from our family members and close friends to relieve stress, work through problems and take care of the home front.  Our family members and close friends endure stress on our behalf and need our support as well.  The Sgt. Maj. and I urge you to take the time this week to say thank you to these special people for their support.  Even if you’ve said it before, we urge you to say it again. 

Keeping lines of communication open requires effort.  It requires creativity.  When your child mails you a picture they drew, it required time and creativity.  Give the same thing back.  As leaders, it’s important to make it so that if we can include a service member’s family in a special event such as a promotion or award that we do.  The Sgt. Maj. recently got to be in the delivery room with her daughter as she delivered her first child via FaceTime.  Most of my family was able to see the AFRICOM Commander along with the Djiboutian Chief of Defense take part in a promotion and award ceremony.  The best part of the ceremony was to have them there with me even though they were so far away.  It may not be FaceTime or Skype, but sometimes we can take a picture or send a letter.  The CJTF-HOA Facebook and Twitter pages are great resources for our family and friends to get an idea of what your life here is like and the mission you’re working towards.   

Do you know about your teammates?  What are their interests? Are they married?  Do they have children?  Do they share a close relationship to a grandparent?  Are any significant events in their lives coming up?  Get to know these things about your teammates.  Great problems—or great successes—at home will affect your ability to complete the mission.  Engaged leadership means making their business your business.

Here at CJTF-HOA, we use the African proverb Ubuntu that Africans use to express unity through diversity.  One of Ubuntu’s meanings is, “I am because we are.”  An individual does not exist without the community and a community cannot exist without an individual.  It can be used the same as in a team or organization and we want to use it towards our families and close friends, as we couldn’t do this without their continued support.   “Together-committed and focused, there is nothing we can’t accomplish”

Ubuntu, see you on the running trail.


Commander Senior Enlisted Leader

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SgtMaj and I always say it is a Leadership factory at CJTF-HOA and we build Leaders first. We do so and we are so successful because this command is the most diverse we have seen. It is a melting pot of each of our services; active duty, reserves, and our coalition and civilian partners. We embrace each other’s culture, and, SgtMaj and I challenge each of you to learn from one another’s service culture and service traditions. While being in the countries of our East Africa Partners, share a little of your culture and learn about the culture of the country you are in. In turn, this will make our organization and our mission stronger and more successful.