Former AFMC commander mentors AWC Class of 2013

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala -- After retirement, many senior military leaders continue mentoring Airmen through speaking engagements at Air War College. During the Joint Strategy Leadership course, speakers bring lessons learned, words of wisdom and best practices that tomorrow's leaders can use in their organizations.

Recently, a former Air Force Materiel Command commander, retired Gen. Gregory S. Martin, took time from his schedule as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Academies' Air Force Studies Board to mentor the AWC Class of 2013.

In a speech, titled "Providing Advice and Dissent," the 35-year Air Force veteran relayed some of the ways to avoid the bumps and bruises of providing advice to "deaf ears".

"It is important that our current and future Air Force leaders understand they may be required to offer candid, personal insights and sound military advice to both military and civilian policy makers," Martin said. "I think in the end, this isn't so much about how to give dissenting advice, but how did you arrive at your position. Before you turn someone's opinion, you have to understand how you and your boss got to your opinions."

Martin also points out that part of the learning process is understanding the importance of timing.

"Today's leaders have to understand how important their advice is and what are the appropriate actions if the advice given is not accepted," Martin said.

The general explained he did not just come up with this advice; it formed around Air Force lessons he has learned from his dad, who served at Maxwell. Martin ties to the Air University also extend to his time as a student at Squadron Officer School and to his more than 50 speeches delivered at the AWC and SOS during his career.

"On active duty, I tried to give the students an appreciation from a senior leader's perspective on their next steps in their career, and how the organizations I participated in would need or benefit from their contributions," the former United States Air Forces in Europe commander said.

Today, Martin works to ensure major defense contractors understand what the military does and needs.

Similar to the 20 years between WWI and WWII, when public support for the military was low, Martin explained the need to be careful, especially in the confines of a tight budget, to protect the intellectual foundation of the service.

"There were some key developments that took place during those 20 years, like the Naval War Games, that gave us insight on the use of carriers and the use of strategic bombing, that gave us insight into the future of airpower," said Martin. "It is about developing the intellectual foundations for strategic thinking and operational planning so no matter what happens with the number of planes we buy or the programs we fund, we need to continue to protect intellectual foundations."

In the choice between modernization of equipment or the education and training process, Martin emphasized the need to do both.

"We have to be careful about dismantling the education and training processes that stimulate the minds and give us the next capability, and we have to also invest in the right things that will help give us the advantage in the areas we are responsible for," he said.
For Martin, like many, his service has extended far past retirement.

"When I retired, I thought there were three stages of life: learning, serving and reflecting," Martin said. "I realized when I retired, I was too young to enter that reflecting phase so I invented another phase I call payback, and that is where I am now."

Martin's Air Force involvement shows signs of continuing through his daughter's leadership, who graduated Air Force Officer Training School in 2001.

"I have learned over the years, and now I get the opportunity to share what I have learned with tomorrow's Air Force leaders," he said. "If I can help these leaders learn from the scars I have, I am all for that."