Leadership News

Friday, December 21, 2012

There IS an I in team

Commentary by Wayne Amann
Air Force ISR Agency Public Affairs

12/21/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Contrary to popular belief or conventional wisdom or even the cliché, there IS an I in team.

The I is you, the I is me. The I represents all the "I"ndividuals who make up a team. And nowhere is that more meaningful than in the United States military.

Our Armed Forces is a microcosm of Americans - individuals drawn from across our great land who bring to the fight unique backgrounds, strengths and talents, and who adhere to certain core values governing the military.

That combination of people and purpose provides the backbone of the military team concept, regardless of service branch, which leads me to why I'm writing this opinion.

During my 20-year active duty Air Force career, my subsequent time as a military contractor and my current civil service stint, I've always subscribed to the team first mindset. I was, and still am, proud to be part of something bigger than myself.

I found that sense of belonging rekindled recently when I was watching this year's Army-Navy football game. Besides service academy bragging rights, the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, emblematic of gridiron supremacy among the three academies [Air Force being the third] was at stake, so the game meant something besides its traditional pageantry.

The Midshipmen were going for their 11th straight win in the rivalry and were leading the cadets from West Point, 17-13, in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

Army had the ball and was marching down the field for an apparent winning touchdown when the handoff between quarterback Trent Steelman and one of his running backs was fumbled near the Navy goal line.

The Middies recovered, won the game and dashed Army's hopes of salvaging something positive from a dismal 2-9 season.

As expected, the CBS television cameras showed an exuberant Navy squad, then honed in on Steelman, for what seemed like an extraordinarily long time. The senior signal caller was visibly distraught, holding his head in his hands on the bench. This was the fourth straight year his team lost to Navy with him at the proverbial controls.

During those heartbreaking moments for Steelman, the Bowling Green, Ky., native earned my respect. I can only imagine what was going through his mind at that time, but his post-game reaction reinforced my faith in individual responsibility and accountability.

Granted, in the overall scheme of things a football game doesn't really matter. That's exactly why Steelman's emotional display impressed me. Here's a young man, who is so passionate about team success, he exhibits accountability through his body language.

If he places that much importance on a football game as a quarterback, I have no doubt he'll bring that type of leadership to the battlefield as an officer.

In the military, as in football, individual actions have a domino effect on the team. Each individual is responsible to themselves and their teammates.

For Air Force folks, being a good Wingman is a lot like that. Each Airman, including civilians, looks out for each other, in part, by taking care of their individual responsibilities. Collectively, their accountability ensures mission accomplishment for all bluesuiters.

My bottom line is: it takes all the I's working in unison toward the same goal to make an effective team. For acronym fans TEAM can stand for: Togetherness Epitomizes America's Military.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Declaration 'turns words into action' for prevention

by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

12/19/2012 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Air Force's top leadership recently reiterated the service's zero-tolerance for sexual assault to stop a cycle of unprofessional behavior that is incompatible with the service's core values.

The 9th Communications Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., took the task seriously and decided to sign a declaration stating their commitment to stop sexual assault.

"We are all committed to end sexual assault, but this is our declaration to turn words into action," said Lt. Col. Susan Magaletta, 9th CS commander. "No person who should fear being assaulted when we are all teammates in this Air Force. We will stick together to bring an end to this behavior."

The idea for the declaration came from Senior Airmen Zack Most and Patricia Lendon.

The declaration which states:

As a 9th CS Airman, I pledge...
  • To not be a passive bystander
  • To have the courage to confront the situation
  • To remember my core values and that I always represent the Air Force
  • To recognize that consent cannot be given while someone is under the influence
  • To understand that "no" always means "no"
  • To accept the boundaries of my fellow Airmen
  • To respect all individuals
More than 50 communications Airmen have signed the declaration since Nov. 13. The document is poster size and will rotate throughout the squadron to remain visible to all Airmen.

"We thought this would be a good way to account for ourselves as Airmen," Lendon said. "It's a constant visible reminder to stay mindful of what we do, say and act on."

Recently, Beale participated in the Air Force-wide health and welfare inspection to emphasize an environment of respect, trust and professionalism in the workplace and virtual environment. The purpose of this inspection was to reinforce expectations for the workplace environment, correct deficiencies and deter conditions that may be detrimental to good order and discipline. Organizations looked for and removed, if found, unprofessional or inappropriate items that hinder a professional working environment.

"We have an excellent record of professional relationships within our squadron already, but the steps won't stop here," Magaletta said. "This should extend into our personal lives as well."

According to a Letter to Airmen sent Nov. 16 by Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy, the Air Force must drive sexual assault from the ranks.

"You are a big part of the solution," the letter said. "Become personally involved. Recommit yourself to our core values. Be an advocate for professionalism and discipline. Let your fellow Airmen know you will not tolerate or support others who believe sexual assault is somehow acceptable - because it is not. Most importantly, if you are aware of sexual assault in your unit, report it."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'The Elephant in the Room'

Commentary by Lt. Col. W.E. Gene Mattingly
87th Mission Support Group

12/16/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNS) -- This commentary is in regard to the recently published Air Force chief of staff memo and corresponding articles, "Combating Sexual Assault in the Air Force," "CSAF directs Air Force-wide inspection," and "CSAF talks leadership with wing commanders." I've got chills up my spine at the very deliberate leadership focus by our new CSAF, and I certainly feel his "call to arms" to destroy sexual assault in our Air Force, but also to really get after ensuring we foster a workplace environment of respect, trust and professionalism in the workplace.

I'm having trouble understanding how Airmen could hurt fellow Airmen through sexual assault or any form of sexual harassment for that matter. I'm convinced the problem is much more systemic than we give it credit. More than a decade ago, I was reminded we as members of the Air Force are simply a cross-section of our society. Personally, I like to think we represent the very best of our society. I've learned the hard way that is not so. I still keep my glass half-full, and for the most part, I earnestly believe that we have a majority of the very best.

The issue is those who make-up the worst of our society somehow make it into our great Air Force too. Not wanting to say that broken homes and relationships, rampant internet pornography and addictions to it, and continued abuse of alcohol are the reasons, but they are certainly contributing factors, and they just might be the "elephant in the room." I think the problem is related more to our moral fabric than anything else.

As an Air Force, we must remain alert to what is presented as societal norms, which our Airmen may embrace, but that our Air Force simply can ill afford to embrace. We must hold ourselves to a much higher standard. As an example, many think the core value of integrity is relative, not clear cut right or wrong. When, in fact, that portrayed as right is clearly a violation of personal integrity. Some people in our society may even chastise me for my moral high-ground stance on certain issues because it is counter to an overall societal view these days.

A year ago or so ago my first sergeant goaded me, "Hey sir, do you want a real education about what's going on 'out there?'--come with me to the Club Friday or Saturday night, or better yet sir, let's go downtown." I'm pretty sure I'm glad I didn't go, but as a commander I spent a lot of time thinking about discipline after the fact. Thinking back, quite possibly, going with the Shirt a time or two may have been a good idea--and maybe just maybe it would have deterred some deviant behaviors.

I'm not saying I have cornered all the reasons, nor all the answers to a moral and criminal dilemma, or why we have Airmen assaulting fellow Airmen.

This issue makes me about as sad as anything does after more than 26 years of honorable Air Force service. As an Airman, I'm ready and willing to be part of the solution, not the problem. I'm confident most of us are. The challenge is not to be passive or unwilling to talk about the "elephants" we see. Be frank, open and honest, holding one another accountable - let's see where it leads. To an even better Air Force? - I'm all in.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fostering teamwork: It's not about you

Commentary by Maj. James Bartran, flight commander
36th Student Squadron, Squadron Officer College

12/14/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al -- Henry Ward Beecher once stated, "No man is more cheated than the selfish man." Individualism, entitlement, self-servitude and egotism well ingrained in our personalities are cancers to team development. The cure rests in selflessness, genuine caring of others and a strategic mindset.

The implementation of these traits requires thought.

A great team is greater than the sum of its parts. How do you build such a team? How do leaders foster team development and cohesiveness?

Great teams take time, work, and most of all, strong relationships ... real relationships. However, in today's anti-analytical, distant culture that demands instant gratification; we expect results to just happen.

We should approach team development in a way that is less like social media, where one has a sense of control and can manage social interactions, and more like a friendship with all its intangible imperfections and unexpected synergies. What follows are thoughts on fostering this type of team.

It's not about you

We all have a propensity to think we live in a bubble. You don't.

As a leader, this truth carries more importance for you. Whatever your career ambitions, personal problems or insecurities, fostering teamwork demands equality. Each person or role has its place, and they are self-defined based on the team dynamic, creating balance.

This holistic mindset closely matches "the long grey line," as stated by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. All players have a place where they add the most value. This balance requires a degree of selflessness, and our mission sets require us to hold true or risk failure as a nation, Air Force, team and individually.

Walk the walk

Your actions speak louder than your words, and this truth is no less relevant while fostering teamwork. When leading a team, remember the importance of holding high standards from the simplest of requirements, such as uniform wear, to the demands of highly detailed missions.

No one can truly know your mindset, your motivations, aspirations and thoughts, but they can know how you chose to behave, dress and act and your true character. This becomes the bedrock for fostering teamwork. This leaves little mystery as to where people stand, which in turn allows them to branch out and begin their journey as a team. Finally, this helps the team in role clarity, eliminating the individual mindset. In its place, individuals begin thinking they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Relationships mean everything

During the most adverse encounters a team will ever face, the foundational relationships and friendships between its members bind them together. Organizations pale in importance to the brothers and sisters beside you during hardship. This identification, in turn, serves to strengthen the team even more.

Imagine for a moment that your commander orders you to take on a highly undesirable task. Imagine the differences in your willingness to take on this task based on your loyalty to the people you serve. Trusting one another and, in turn, developing real relationships will inevitably lead to teams that will overlook individual motives in place of team objectives.

Simply put, interaction fuels action. The most important leadership behavior to remember: you must uphold and foster trust between you and your team members. Failing to do so will result in breaking that trust and the team.

Vision is important

Without vision, your people will lack direction, focus and purpose. Vision takes one's eyes off of individual concerns and focuses the team, giving them confidence. This fosters teamwork on a number of levels.

While seemingly attainable, a true vision lies just beyond achievable. When the team accomplishes things it didn't at first believe possible during its journey to achieve the vision, everyone's confidence is boosted and team development is furthered.

It also puts the team on the same page and focuses efforts. This in turn demonstrates that everyone desires the same thing, creating buy in.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven Deadly Sins

The December 20, 2012, episode of American Heroes Radio will feature a conversation with Lieutenant Art Adkins, Gainesville Police Department about leadership and his new book Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven Deadly Sins.

Topic: Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven Deadly Sins.
Date: December 27, 2012
Time: 1500 Pacific

Lieutenant Art Adkins is a 29 year veteran of law enforcement.  He began his law enforcement career on the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and then joined the Los Angeles Police Department.  During his 12 years with the Los Angeles Police Department he attained the rank of sergeant.  Lieutenant Art Adkins returned to Florida to finish his law enforcement career with the Gainesville Police Department.  He has worked a variety of assignments including patrol, detectives, administration, vice, bunco-forgery.  Moreover, as a sergeant he has supervised both investigative and administrative police units.  Lieutenant Art Adkins is the author of The Oasis Project, Power Grid and
Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven Deadly Sins

According to the book description of Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven Deadly Sins, “By avoiding the pitfalls of the Seven Deadly Sins and embracing the Seven Heavenly Virtues, leaders can modify their 'rules of behavior' and become imminently successful. It is a choice. One road leads to a balanced, purposeful path of successful leadership while the other spirals downward to chaos. One brings harmony, the other discord. Which road do you want to take? There are two things you should to do to become a successful leader. One is to act like a leader, and the other is to take the steps to become a leader. Leadership Basics will help you accomplish both. This unique guide will teach you to conquer the Seven Deadly Sins- pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust- by using the seven heavenly virtues- humility, kindness, patience, diligence, charity, temperance, and chastity. Through specific examples and helpful advice, you'll learn what a leader looks like and the simple steps to get there. You hold in your heart all the traits you need to be an effective leader, and you hold in your hands an inspirational, comprehensive guide to Leadership Basics to draw those traits out. What are you waiting for?”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life.  Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years.  He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant.  He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University.  He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership.  Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One.  He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Listen from the Archive:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Training, Resource Sharing Boost NATO Transformation Initiatives

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 13, 2012 – To more coherently realize the alliance’s strategic vision and future interoperability, NATO’s Allied Command Transformation must champion training, capability development and education, the command’s chief of staff said here yesterday.

Royal Navy Vice Adm. C.A. Johnstone-Burt said military leaders from NATO’s 28 member nations and 17 partner nations are meeting here this week to promote technical and intellectual flexibility in weathering changes that a slower Afghanistan operations tempo and a fiscally constrained environment will evoke.
“We’re trying to establish a dialogue and create a crucible within which we can generate ideas and think about how we can transform the alliance for the better,” Johnstone-Burt said.

The admiral referenced the popular “King of Neptune” statue in neighboring Virginia Beach, Va., to liken Allied Command Transformation to the trident gripped by the Roman god of water.

As of Dec. 1, ACT has now assumed responsibility for all training within NATO, he noted, making that component the center prong.

“From a strategic, operational, tactical level we do training. From an individual to collective level, we do training,” Johnstone-Burt said. “Cradle to grave -- that’s ACT.”

The other trident prongs can be thought of as ACT’s charge to assess capability development requirements in strategic military thinking over the short, medium and long terms.

“To what degree are we clear about the challenges that we’re going to face in 2040 and beyond?” Johnstone-Burt asked. “Are we configured as NATO, as an alliance, to prepare ourselves properly to deal with those challenges?”

The admiral said ACT consists of people around the world who painstakingly seek those answers.
“The shaft of the trident is transformation -- to transform NATO … in preparation for the future,” Johnstone-Burt said. “The core of the trident is made up of our member nations and partners, because we can’t do it without them.”

Finally, the grip of the handle, Johnstone-Burt asserted, is interoperability and coherence. ACT’s connected forces initiative, he said, marries education and training with exercises and technology to maximize agility, standardize policy and expedite response.

“The CFI is hugely significant and will shape the future,” Johnstone-Burt said.

Similarly, the NATO defense planning process and “Smart Defense” initiative enable member countries to benefit from the political, military and resource advantages of working together while maintaining sovereignty, the admiral explained.

Smart Defense projects, NATO officials explained, include developing advances in e-learning, pooling maritime patrol aircraft and amplifying the role of women as key leaders in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

Advances made within these new processes are thought to be among many drivers for transformation within the alliance, Johnstone-Burt said.

With 148 active efficiencies projects and proposals in place as of Dec. 6, the Smart Defense portfolio generates multinational solutions developed parallel to the NATO defense planning process and will continue to identify new opportunities for nation-to-nation cooperation, he said.

“The aim is to make sure [Smart Defense and the planning process are] as aligned as possible,” Johnstone-Burt said. “The overlap must be the greater of the two circles.”

Though Smart Defense has traction and the alliance’s nations do recognize the value, the admiral said, now the ideas must be implemented.

Execution culminates with an ACT team visiting each participating nation to assess its capabilities.
“There’s one nation that traditionally delivers far more than the others,” Johnstone-Burt said in a reference to the United States. “The European NATO nations accepted that fully … and came up with a tacit understanding that no nation should … contribute more than 50 percent to any one capability, if at all possible.”

This, Johnstone-Burt said, makes forging the future a critical part of transformation.

“If we collectively had an agreed picture of the future, then it follows logically that we could gear our NATO defense planning process around that in terms of capability,” the admiral said. “We can gear our education and training exercises around it.”

The doctrine and policies may be complex, but the transformational mindset part of the equation, Johnstone-Burt said, is quite simple.

“It’s really not about ordering people to think differently. [Rather, it’s about] releasing their potential,” he said. “It’s really looking at our different mindsets, our culture, our behavior and our systems to see how we can adapt those to embrace everybody.”

Differing services within the nations further compound the challenges, the admiral acknowledged.
“It will take time, but the ultimate aim is to unleash this potential,” Johnstone-Burt said. “We do have a spectrum of capability when the balloons go up, and nations can play to their strengths.”

Finding the common ground in such a diverse alliance is not without its obstacles, but it’s worth the effort, Johnstone-Burt said. “There is always a degree of friction in trying to get to an agreed position, … but once we’re there, boy, is it hugely powerful when you get 28 nations all agreeing,” he added.

ACT’s location in the United States also brings an advantage to NATO, the admiral noted.

“It provides that transatlantic bridge,” Johnstone-Burt said. “It maintains a European-NATO perspective in America and enables us in wider NATO to reflect the U.S. perspective back into Europe, and vice-versa.”

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Supervisor Resource Center offers 'taking care of people' topics, more

Air Force Materiel Command Manpower, Personnel and Services

12/5/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Supervisor Resource Center, or SRC, located on the Air Force Portal continues to expand its offering of tools targeting the needs of emerging leaders, as well as new and experienced supervisors.

The SRC 'Hot Topics' menu area contains a link to the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program, and provides supervisors with information to assist and assess employees who are at risk for potential suicide. Many of the skills development resources have been bundled based on topics such as "Taking Care of People." Additional resources available include short courses, books, videos, simulations, practice exercises and job aids which can be used as structured learning programs to reduce competency gaps or as "just-in-time" resources to meet situational needs.

These resources are free, available on-demand from any Common Access Card-enabled computer and can be accessed from the front page of the SRC. To get to the SRC, go to the Air Force Portal, click on the 'Life and Career' tab at the top of the site, click 'Force Development,' then on the left, click the Supervisor Resource Center tab.

These resources are not just for supervisors, and can be accessed by all Air Force employees.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Confession of a chaplain: "I shouldn't be here"

Commentary by Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff Granger
65th Air Base Wing Chapel

12/4/2012 - LAJES FIELD, Azores  -- My secret is I shouldn't be here. I was disqualified from becoming a chaplain. Now that I have that off my chest, let me share with you why that is helpful to know. The Enlisted Force Structure, AFI 36-2618, says that Airmen must be spiritually ready to accomplish the mission.

Spiritual readiness is described as "the development of those personal qualities needed to help a person through times of stress, hardship, and tragedy." The definition is clear, but it begs the question, "What are 'those personal qualities,' and how do we develop them?" This is where my story serves as an illustration.

I was a line officer for 10 years. God called me to ministry very clearly in 1998. I separated from active duty in 1999 with the plan to return as a chaplain. As I was getting out, I met a promotion board for major. I received incorrect advice from the personnel office which told me that my date of separation (DOS) would be "masked" from the board. This was incorrect, and I was not selected for promotion because I had a DOS, and the Chaplain Corps said I was ineligible to return as a chaplain because I was passed over.

I was crushed by the news, but I had faith that ministering for God was more important than whether or not I was an Air Force chaplain. I completed seminary and began to seek placement in a church. However, I was in my late 30s by this time and while I had extensive vocational experience, I didn't have church experience. I made the short list for a number of church positions, but was never the one chosen because the desirable choice was either a younger pastor for youth ministry, or a more experienced one for adult ministry.

My discouragement is hard to describe, and I slowly declined into depression. My wife thought I might have to find secular employment, but I had faith that God intended to use me in ministry. This was an important time in my spiritual development, because I would not known how committed I am to be a pastor unless I went through these difficulties. It was just a matter of enduring until I found the right place.

I still had a passion to serve the military, so I returned to the Air Force chaplain recruiter. It turned out that the door to the Air Force opened back up. While in seminary, I had joined the Inactive Ready Reserves, and I was promoted to major. That promotion eliminated the non-selection from my record. This, and many other factors, all showed me that it is only by God's grace that I am an Air Force chaplain, because I shouldn't be here.

So, what personal qualities did I develop to enable me to be spiritual ready? Since I know that this is the place God wants me to serve, I am able to persevere despite facing frustrations and disappointments. When I face challenges, I know God will also work beyond my power to help solve them. In addition, God built my spiritual strength through the difficulties I endured before returning to active duty.

You may have a spiritual perspective different than mine. But in general, when we have a spiritual perspective, we have a perspective that there is more to life than immediate circumstances--there is a big picture that extends beyond what we can see. When we have this perspective, we can handle hardship and tragedy with strength that is beyond our own abilities.

My experience and my ongoing spiritual exercises have prepared me to be spiritually ready for the mission. Are you?

OTS shortens course length, increases efficiency

by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs

12/4/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Beginning in January, the Air Force Officer Training School's Basic Officer Training course will be shortened by three weeks, officials announced Dec. 4.

Cutting the course from 12 weeks to nine weeks was the result of finding efficiencies in the course's scheduling processes and curriculum, said the OTS commandant.

"Our staff was able to adapt its operations and curriculum in several innovative ways to save money and Airmen's time while still producing fully qualified and capable second lieutenants," said Col. Thomas Coglitore. "We've also beefed up our total force academics in order for our trainees to better understand the cultures between the active, Reserve and Air National Guard components."

The commandant said, shortening the course falls in line with Air Education and Training Command's cost-conscious culture initiative, or C3, which challenges AETC units to seek more efficient ways of using available resources.

"By developing and delivering qualified second lieutenants in a new way, we preserve our resources," he said.

Coglitore said estimated savings of about $1.9 million may be gained from the change.

"There is a potential for much larger savings as the result of the decreased course length and an increase in the number of classes offered annually by allowing for a more efficient training pipeline flow," he said.

In fiscal 2012, OTS officials graduated 642 second lieutenants from its basic officer training course and are expected to graduate 1,055 new officers in fiscal 2013. BOT graduates both active-duty and Reserve line officers. OTS's officer production numbers fluctuate in response to variations between projected and actual Air Force Academy and Air Force ROTC accessions and Air Force end-strength requirements.

"If we get hit with a national emergency and need to commission more officers quickly, OTS gives our nation the surge capacity to do it, and this new construct increases our maximum capability," said Coglitore.

The syllabus is now pared down to the minimum necessary to fulfill federal commissioning standards.

"There are 116 tasks directed by Air Force instructions to commission someone as an officer and 10 more from the Joint Chiefs of Staff," he said. "I am comfortable that we are not lowering standards, but becoming more efficient with how we schedule and conduct the training."

Producing motivated officers of character who embody the American warrior ethos and are culturally aware, expeditionary minded and prepared to lead is the mission of OTS. Blending those principals with the culture of cost consciousness in today's Air Force assures the future of air power, said Col. Scott Wiggins, OTS vice commandant.

"When things have been done a certain way for a long time, and while tradition is important, sometimes you have to weigh tradition versus progress," he said. "We always need to be willing to ask why do we do something a certain way and how can we do it better."

Leader Engagement Key to ‘Bridging Basics,’ Battaglia Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – Service members of all ranks and experience should know that they are the ones with the institutional knowledge needed to build a bridge between generations and develop the force of the future, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

With the end of the war in Iraq and the ongoing drawdown in Afghanistan, the military is transforming itself into a leaner, more garrison-centric force, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia said in a roundtable discussion with reporters. That force -- called “Joint Force 2020” in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s Capstone Concept for Joint Operations -- also will be highly agile and technologically capable.

These profound changes mark a return to military life that more closely resembles the pre-9/11 era, Battaglia said. However, he added, the idea that a “back to the basics” approach is necessary to address the transformation might be catchy, but it’s incomplete.

“It removes … a whole generation that has just a great source of innovative thinking … that can help us be a better force,” he explained.

A military of the future that relies solely on the training methods and standards of earlier generations won’t be successful, he said. Rather, service members should “bridge the basics” by fusing those fundamentals that remain unchanged -- for example, customs and courtesies and active leader engagement -- with ideas and technologies that have been proven over the past 11 years.

“‘Back to the basics’ implies … that we’re taking you somewhere you’ve once been,” he said. It also implies that the knowledge of post-9/11 service members isn’t working, he added, or that it’s not as effective as it could be and therefore can be ignored.

Neither of these things is true of today’s military, Battaglia said. “We can’t just step back in time,” he added.

The way a peacetime military functions is very different from what service members who enlisted in the years following 9/11 have experienced, Battaglia said.

“Our military lifestyle and day-to-day living [consisted of] exercises and maybe peacetime sorts of operations, but for the most part, it was aboard the bases and the garrison,” he said. “We were able to keep ourselves occupied, proficient, ready and relevant as a force.”

Service members of Battaglia’s generation trained for a war that they never fought, he said, as they served in a military built during the Cold War. “And that obviously changed in September of 2001,” he noted.

Practically overnight, the normal operational tempo transformed from “reset and dwell” to “over and back,” Battaglia said.

“Dwell time [at home stations became] nothing more than getting ready for the next deployment,” he said.

That caused some basic military skills to be temporarily shelved, Battaglia said.

Battaglia said he’s convinced that the military leaders of his generation can use their experience in a peacetime military to guide the current generation of warfighters through the transformation into Joint Force 2020. “It makes so much sense that instead of taking one ‘back to the basics’ or returning to the basics, we need a bridge,” he said.

“We feel that today’s generation of innovative thinkers and technologies allow both ‘basics’ to be very applicable to … bringing our force to Joint Force 2020,” he said. Leaders need to use the knowledge of today’s generation of service members rather than alienating them, he said.

Key to the “bridging the basics” concept is active leadership engagement, something that can’t be replaced by technology, Battaglia said. Leaders at all levels must spend time talking to their troops to not only evaluate what skills and knowledge they can contribute to the unit, but also to assess their well-being, he explained. The military needs to stay leadership-centric and technology-enabled, not technology-centric and leadership-enabled, he added.

“While we live with the email and social media -- that can still be utilized and utilized very effectively -- [that] doesn’t have to be the sole source and sole way [to communicate],” he said.

As a doctrine, bridging the basics is still in its infancy stages, Battaglia said, noting he is working with the senior enlisted advisors from each service and from the combatant commands to further develop and spread the idea.

“We have a generation of service members who have operational experience. … I’m convinced that that’s going to bring more value to keeping our force trained and educated for whatever contingency may come up next,” he said. “Where we need to take it is into the educational institutions and the academies that our [service members] attend.”

Monday, December 03, 2012

My educational journey: Mentors, supervisors, and peers make a difference

by Capt. Robby Gallegos
31st Test and Evaluation Squadron

12/3/2012 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- I enlisted in the United States Air Force in February 2000 at the young age of 19. Unlike many of our young troops today, I entered with no post-high school education -- not to mention I was married with a son on the way. I had enlistment goals of learning a trade as well as technical training, to include a college education. A college degree would be a milestone in my family. Nobody before me had achieved that accomplishment.

I was an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist, better known as a "load toad" or "weapons loader." In the beginning, life was very demanding. I was trying to juggle a new family, adjust to a strange new environment (the military), and knock out those dreaded Career Development Courses. Off-duty education was the last thing on my mind. As time went on, the job became more demanding because of September 11th, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle. I was constantly TDY and working long hours. Four years went by in a heartbeat, and I hadn't taken a single step towards a college education.

In 2004, I was selected to work at the elite Weapons Standardization Section. It was a demanding job, but the duty hours were a little more predictable and stable. Staff Sgt. Dale King became my immediate supervisor, and he remains one of the best supervisors I have had in my 13-year career. He did what was expected of our NCOs: he was my mentor, leader and motivator. During our performance feedback session he told me what was expected of me, stressing concern for my future growth and personal achievement. This was the first time someone sat me down and discussed off-duty education. It wasn't about building up fodder to win quarterly or annual awards, it was about me. To this day I still remember the words he used: "Don't wait, take advantage of your time now." Anybody who has been in the Air Force for a good amount of years knows he was speaking the truth. Throughout the years, with increased rank and responsibility, comes a dramatic decrease in personal time, especially when working at a fighter aircraft base on the flight-line. Sergeant King took the time to inform me where to go, how to enroll and even what degree to pursue. As a staff sergeant, I enrolled in my first class through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Extended Campus. Motivation and inspiration wasn't hard to get because Sergeant King took classes with me. So my educational journey began. It wasn't long until I was knocking classes out, and along the way there was Sergeant King asking, "What class is next?" After every term, he always came back to me and told me what was coming up. The motivation was so profound that, at one point, nearly all personnel in the section were pursuing off-duty education.

When I had to PCS in 2006 to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, I was only one class away from my Community College of the Air Force degree and about six from my bachelor's degree. Again, with the transition to a new base, a new home and new people, my educational motivation decreased. I was very fortunate to have a peer from my last duty station PCS to Elmendorf with me. He had the motivation to finish his bachelor's degree and go to Officer Training School. In some sort of way he was my "competition" to finish my degree first. Even though he ultimately finished before me, he kept me inspired to finish mine.

Officer Training School was the last thought on my mind during my eight years as an enlisted man, but I always had the desire and determination to lead and guide. I wanted to be involved in decision making processes and make stuff happen. Looking back, there were many variables which ultimately inspired me to submit a package to OTS, but without the educational foundation it couldn't happen. In 2007, I was selected for OTS, completed my bachelor's - graduating summa cum laude -- and my CCAF degree -- receiving a Pitsenbarger Award.

Once I was a United States Air Force officer, my educational journey didn't end. Once again, with strong supervision and mentorship, I was pushed to pursue my master's degree. With the strong foundation implanted by Sergeant King years back, I didn't need much motivation. Despite the demanding duty as an officer, I did what I had to do and worked with the little time I had and got it done. There were times I had to pause for Professional Military Education, TDYs and training, but I picked right up. All that remains is a thesis that I'm working on now.

Looking back at my educational journey and my Air Force career, I wouldn't be where I am today without the strong mentors, supervisors and peers. If there wasn't a Staff Sgt. King during my journey (now Senior Master Sgt. King), I can't imagine where I would be today. Would I have a bachelor's degree or a CCAF degree? Sometimes, all it takes is some involvement in your troop's lives. It could make a significant difference.