One Airman at a time

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David E. Carlson
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing command chief
Have you ever had a supervisor that seemed to do all the right things? One that was caring and compassionate yet firm when it came to the standards? Highly involved in your career and genuinely concerned for your well being? Decisive and accountable? The example for all? How about a supervisor that did not live up to your expectations? Concerned about self more than service? Had the integrity of a professional scam artist? An excellent performer, but only when the boss was looking?

Both of these supervisors can teach us valuable lessons on our responsibilities to lead Airmen. We have a duty to learn and develop as we progress in the Air Force, since we will all be a supervisor at some point. How will you handle those duties? Supervision is not easy but is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences. Even after you have soaked up all that knowledge from the good, and not so good leaders in your life, you will still need to ask for help.

That's why you have senior NCOs, first sergeants and chiefs. Use them. Even with the best plan, you are still going to make mistakes, but make them only once. Learn from the mistakes of that supervisor that didn't live up to your expectations, because you're not going to live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself. Use your experiences to apply sound judgment to the situation at hand. Our Airmen are counting on you.

The Grand Forks Air Force Base mission is changing, however, leading and supervising our Warriors of the North must remain constant. We are charged to stand down the operations and maintenance groups and finish our drawdown of the KC-135 mission, while simultaneously standing up the High Frequency Global Communication System and Global Hawk operations. Our Airmen are executing these tasks with precision and this is a testament to great Airmen and solid supervision.

And while mission accomplishment is why we are here, it is only one part of the equation. Are our Airmen in school? How about their spiritual, physical and mental fitness? Are they involved in the community? How about their families? Is the home front in order? And the list goes on... dorms, dining facility, uniforms, professional military education, promotions, deployments, etc.

On a recent trip to Lackland AFB, Texas, I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing more that 500 Airmen receive their basic military training graduation coins from their military training instructors after eight and a half weeks of demanding training. Afterwards, we spoke with many of these Airmen and it was inspirational to see how motivated and excited they were about their futures. They are absolutely ready to join the greatest Air Force in the world.

We are responsible for ensuring these Airmen remain motivated and trained to meet the challenges of our evolving Air Force, both at home and on deployments. These Airmen are given to us by families all across this country. We are responsible for developing them into operational Airmen. Your opportunity to be that supervisor every Airman wants and needs starts now.