KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore --
Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing took part in a resiliency tactical pause during the July Regularly Scheduled Drill to discuss the impact of racial bias on the culture of Kingsley Field. This comes as a direct reaction to recent national unrest, and provides an opportunity to give Airmen the opportunity to learn how they can work together to create a more inclusive environment for their wingmen.
U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeffery Edwards, 173rd FW commander, said in a message to the Airmen, "The past few weeks has been a difficult time for us. The death of George Floyd shocked the nation, and many people feel angry, frustrated, and hurt. As a family and as a team, we need to reflect on what we can do at Kingsley Field to eliminate racism and racial bias."
The tactical pause consisted of a short halt to operations across the base while members joined small discussion groups. In these groups, facilitators led conversations designed to highlight ways that all Airmen can make adjustments to counteract internal biases. Major John Cascamo, 173rd FW Military Equal Opportunity officer, said that with so many people on base, there is going to be some level of racial bias present, despite efforts to mitigate it.
"Racism exists everywhere," Cascamo said. "If we are willing to say that, then we can be willing to look at what that means personally, right here and right now, in the fulfillment of our position as members of the American military."
More than 1,200 Airmen work at Kingsley Field, in a variety of career fields that range from aircraft maintenance to office work.
Cascamo highlighted the strengths of the existing culture of diversity, and said that he thinks this tactical pause will only make the base stronger.
"I think in some ways, the American military has proven itself to be a place that's incredibly inclusive and has grown more and more each day or year to have larger representation," said Cascamo.
Across the Air Force, action is being taken to change the culture within the military. General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, sat for an interview with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright. General Charles Brown, incoming Chief of Staff, released a video statement as well. Both conversations centered around Brown and Wright's experiences as black men in the military, and how they felt as both senior leaders and as members of a minority.
In "What I'm thinking about", Brown describes the feeling of being the subject of racism, from his early youth all the way through his career as an officer. "I'm thinking about the Airmen who have lived through similar experiences and feelings as mine, or who were, either consciously or unconsciously, unfairly treated."
Although these conversations are painful, said Wright, addressing these issues is important and can no longer be ignored.
"These conversations are difficult, they're tough, but they're necessary," said Wright.
According to Edwards, this tactical pause represents the first of many steps that will be taken to improve race relations within the Air Force.
"We have a great team, and I know we can do this," said Edwards. "Our State and Nation look to us to set the example, and we will."