The up-and-coming generation has embraced today’s world of instant communications: cell phones, email, Twitter, and such.
This is one of my favorite true stories. It is about an Air Force Academy Cadet who callously decides that he can just fire off a quick email to the two highest ranking people (at the time) in the Air Force — our Chief of Staff, General John Jumper and our Service Secretary, Dr James Roche — and let them know he doesn’t agree with a personnel decision they have made.
From: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:30 AM
To: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Subject: Removal of Academy Leader
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force,
General John P. Jumper,
Sir, I am a fourth Class Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I do not agree with your idea for removal of all top officials at the United States Air Force Academy. I do not believe it is necessary for all four of them to be removed, and replaced. I especially have a problem with the replacement of Col. Bob Eskeridge. The person who is supposed to replace Col. Eskeridge, is not qualified for the position. Her only qualifications are that she is a female, and an Academy Graduate. She has never been a group commander, while Col. Eskeridge has been a group commander twice. Furthermore, this woman has been working at the Academy during the same period as all these cases. She has been in the position of the 34th Training Group, serving as the Deputy Group Commander. By allowing her to take over Col. Eskeridge’s position, it seems as though you are promoting her. Also, the person who will be filling the job she is moving from, will be her superior, having also served as a group commander, but because of the hierarchy at the Academy, she will instead be his superior. I would like to see Col. Eskeridge retain his current position. I do not believe he is a problem, in any way. He is a role model for all Cadets, as a military officer. I have not heard a single complaint or bad word spoken about Col. Eskeridge. Please reconsider your decision to remove Col. Eskeridge from his position.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Cadet Fourth Class Robert M. Walsh
Cadet Squadron 21 “Blackjacks”
United States Air Force Academy
The Secretary of the Air Force’s response
From: Roche James Dr SAF/OS
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 10:11 AM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: Re: Removal of Academy Leaders
Bob, good to hear from you. Colonel Eskeridge is a highly regarded officer and I have no animus toward him. He will be reassigned without any adverse consequence. In fact, we are working to minimize the impact on his family. However, Gen Jumper and I want a new leadership team in place, and we will do so. Your comments about Colonel Gray are not only wrong, they don’t reflect particularly well on you. Assignment of leaders in military organizations is not a popularity contest. Rather, it reflects the vision of the senior leadership of the Service. I know Colonel Gray, Gen Jumper knows Colonel Gray, and you don’t. Now, say again all after who is and who is not qualified to make assignment decisions? While I admire your loyalty to Colonel Eskeridge, and I enjoy a challenge-up, or “briefing room rules” environment, one of us is responsible to the President, the Congress, and the American people for the Academy — and, it’s not you (at least not for a few years). Gen Jumper and I have made our decisions. We expect all concerned now to implement them cheerfully, as is the long-standing expectation for military professionals.
And, Bob, that includes you.
Dr. James G. Roche
Secretary of The Air Force
The Air Force Chief of Staff’s response
From: Jumper John Gen AF/CC
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 12:33 PM
To: Walsh Robert C4C CS21
Subject: RE: Removal of Academy Leader
Cadet Walsh, I sincerely hope that this is a hoax of some type because I would hate to think a Cadet Fourth Class would presume to instruct me on Air Force leaders I have known and served with for longer than you have been alive. I strongly suggest you devote your energy toward being the best possible 3-degree that you can be, to be a part of the solution that the new leadership is being sent there to oversee, and to keep yourself and your attitude off my radar scope.