Commentary

June 1, 2012

Newcomers train from get-go

by Maj. Chistopher Chestnut
56th Maintenance Operations Squadron

I have the great honor and privilege of commanding the 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron, aka Team Roadrunner — “beep beep!”

Over the last 24 years I have learned a thing or two that I usually share with my new squadron teammates at our monthly newcomers’ orientation. Now, these items are my opinion and may not necessarily be correct for everyone and some comments may border on the obvious. My intent is to share some insight with our young Airmen or at the very least, inspire some conversation in the work place.

I started out as an F-16 crew chief in this wing when it was operating out of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., in the late eighties just prior to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We have come a long way since then.

Let me start by saying that I have the highest respect for our Airmen who volunteer to serve our country in a time of war. They bring many attributes to our service, and I consider them to be both very bright and capable. As a matter of fact, I’ve come to realize they are much more capable than I ever was. This is primarily due to the great strides that have occurred in the way we train our Airmen.

It starts in basic military training; it has been shaped by years of warfare and has become a much more robust experience doing a much better job of preparing our recruits to be expeditionary Airmen. Another example of the great improvement in training is in our F-16 crew chief community. When I went through technical school, we were only permitted to look at an F-16 from afar — I actually graduated without ever touching one and most of my training occurred at the assigned base. Now, via the Mission Ready Airmen program, an F-16 crew chief attends an 18-day common maintenance training course followed by 58 days of school on “cold” F-16s at Sheppard AFB, Texas, followed by 20 days of “hot” F-16 training at Luke AFB.

Let there be no doubt, today’s crew chiefs are much better trained and prepared to go to work when they show up at their first duty assignment. Nonetheless, there are a few things they ought to know as they continue to develop in our U.S. Air Force.

First-term Airmen, you’ve completed technical school – now what? After completing technical school, your number one priority is to get your 5 skill level, journeyman. You will need to qualify on additional tasks at your work center but will also be required to complete your Career Development Course. There are many reasons that you should invest your time and effort into your CDCs. Many units honor high scores with passes — time off for the Airman and the supervisor. Great scores also make exceptional bullets for annual evaluations and awards. You also need to advance to keep your job — on a rare occasion a person may be granted a second opportunity to test or cross train but most are dismissed from the Air Force for failure to progress.

In other good news, most career fields award college credit toward a Community College of the Air Force degree for a 5 skill level. To get more information about where you stand, schedule an appointment with the education office.

Another significant note is most senior airmen will test for staff sergeant sooner than they think and will be testing on the same material. Putting it another way, studying hard will help establish a good baseline for future promotion testing. Don’t throw your books away when you’re done.

Once you pass the hurdle of acquiring your 5 skill level, it might be time to consider going to school and getting a CCAF degree. Without taking a class, you may have already earned a year’s worth of college credit from the combination of technical school, 5 skill level, professional military education such as Airman Leadership School and continuation training. Despite this, some Airmen do not understand that earning a degree is in their best interest, whether they stay in or get out of the service. If you are able to complete your CCAF degree before you get out it will more than likely open doors and act as a stepping stone to even greater achievements. If you decide to stay in the Air Force a CCAF degree is practically a requirement to be promoted from master sergeant to senior master sergeant.

At this point in the game, the reality is that if you don’t have a CCAF degree you will not be promoted and will probably not be selected for the best job opportunities. The best career opportunities go to those who consistently perform in an outstanding fashion, have completed their PME and have a CCAF degree.

Let us take a moment and talk about volunteerism. Why volunteer? Volunteer because it helps you, the Air Force, and the community. For the purpose of this article I will focus on how volunteering helps you grow professionally. Not only is it a great opportunity to serve others and build on the Air Force’s relationship with the community, but it’s also an opportunity to build leadership and management skills. For most new Airmen I recommend they start by volunteering to help, but with time and experience, I encourage them to take on more challenging leadership and managerial roles. This is a great opportunity to practice leadership and management in preparation for increased responsibility in the Air Force. Let’s face it, the Air Force is a competitive environment, and your volunteerism will demonstrate your willingness to learn and take on new challenges, not to mention that it will help fill your annual evaluation and award documents. Remember that participating as a volunteer is good, but you will learn more through leading and managing.

In closing, what I share with my new Team Roadrunner warriors is that I expect them to do the little things right and perform in an outstanding fashion every day. They are well trained and can contribute to the mission but must continue to develop themselves for the long run — service is a journey of self-improvement. Attack and accomplish your upgrade training, get a CCAF degree and look for volunteer growth opportunities. Roadrunners … Catch us if you can!




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Airman 1st Class 
PEDRO MOTA

MMA ramps up combat training

Airman 1st ClassPEDRO MOTA Team Ill Brasil brings a new style of martial arts to the base. The Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center now offers discipline specific martial arts training Monday through Friday at the Combat T...
 
 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen expenses throughout the course of...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you do it matters more...
 

 

Your career – as easy as 1, 2, 3

Oftentimes at retirements we hear the phrase, “This is one chapter in my life.” No matter what our goal is, whether it is to serve for four years or 20 years, each of us will leave the Air Force at some point. This leads to the question, “What does it take to have an Air...
 
 
Tech. Sgt.
LOUIS VEGA, Jr.

Reserve recruiter has heart of bull

Tech. Sgt.LOUIS VEGA, Jr. Master Sgt. Stanley Iakopo, Air Force Reserve Command recruiter with the 944th Fighter Wing, puts Joe Vigil, pro fighter and assistant trainer, in a hold while training at Peraza Boxing and Mixed Marti...
 
 

News Briefs July 18, 2014

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will conduct an active-shooter exercise Aug. 15. The exercise will include military and local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. On and off-base residents should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruptions of customer service operations. Expect to see simulated explosions, smoke, role players depicting...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin