All posts by paulf.bove

Communicate and Check For Understanding

Maj. Gen. SargeantIn these difficult economic times, organizations are looking for ways to be effective and efficient among seemingly overwhelming changes. Within the Department of Defense, Secretary Gates has called for organizations to allocate resources wisely, stating that, “we must significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our business operations.” One DOD organization that is embracing efficiency at full speed is the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M. To facilitate buy in from employees during a period of change, simple communication is a must as Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant explains in his new “Commander’s Corner” commentary “Communication: Leadership Responsibility 24/7.”

One of the first steps in the change process was that leaders at AFOTEC needed to be on the right page in order to communicate the changes, and this involved providing them with the right tools and messages. This gave them the understanding and buy in they needed to discuss changes with their employees. Leaders and subordinates are held responsible for communicating and seeking understanding throughout the change process.

Maj. Gen. Sargeant emphasizes that in order for an organization to survive changes, leadership needs to involve employees. Communicating forthcoming changes is just the first step, but it doesn’t ensure that transitions will go smoothly. Taking the extra step of making sure that employees understand is crucial for sustainable change. Staff must not only know what changes are taking place but must also know why change is necessary and what their role is through it all.

To read more about how AFOTEC is communicating change, see Maj. Gen. Sargeant’s complete article in the Kirtland Air Force Base Nucleus here and here.

Happy Birthday, Army!

For 235 years, the United States Army has truly been the strength of our nation.  And today, I believe it is the best it has ever been.

One of the great privileges of this job is visiting our men and women in uniform, including our Soldiers, who serve around the world.  From Fort Hood to Kandahar and posts and FOBs in between, I am proud of and grateful for the courage you and your families display and the sacrifices you make every day.  You embody  what “Army Strong” is all about.

In a year that has seen historic progress in Iraq, a renewed effort in Afghanistan and a superb response to the humanitarian crisis following Haiti’s earthquake, the Army’s fighting spirit, resilience, and adaptability proved critical.  You brought fear to the enemy, hope to the destitute and security to your fellow citizens.  You proved in word and in deed that sometimes we defend our national interests best when we help others defend theirs.

I am also ever mindful of the commitment we must make to the fallen, our wounded warriors, and their families.  Their sacrifices are as profound as they are enduring, and we will always honor those who have given so much to our Army, our country, and the world.

On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Happy 235th birthday to our Army and our Army Families.  Hooah!

– Adm. Mike Mullen

Training with Marines: Week Three

This is the third blog entry for Master Sgt. David Wolfe, a security forces Airman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., who is training at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton in southern California. He volunteered for it after learning slots were available for Air Force senior NCOs.

“I knew this would be a challenge and the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps for seven weeks sounded like an awesome chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Sergeant Wolfe, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1992 and has served all over the world, to include the Middle East, Germany, Italy, Alaska and Wyoming. “My wife did three years in the Marine Corps and my oldest son enlisted last summer just after I left for Iraq, and is currently in tech school, so we have some family connection to the Corps as well.”

You can read his previous experiences HERE and HERE.

Week 3

The Marine Corps Advanced Course marches on here at Camp Pendleton with the academic schedule accelerating over the last two weeks. As of today, we are finished with the officially graded assignments and everyone seems to have done well.

PT has been tough as usual. I mentioned in my last post we were scheduled for a run called baby tears, and it was difficult – as advertised. A 4-mile run to the top of a training range, followed by a run back down to the bottom. Climbing for two miles straight does a number on your legs, and coming down, while faster, is equally as hard on the knees and ankles. We followed that up the next day with a circuit course, and one of the stations was the o-course itself.

The academic week was focused on the Marine Corps version of our OJT program, with an in-depth analysis of how the Marines ensure combat readiness across the Corps. Some similarities exist, but the system is largely focused around the idea of a constant training environment, something we sometimes cannot enjoy with home station mission requirements.

One of the highlights of the week was a pt session called run-swim-run. Camp Pendleton is divided into many geographically independent camps. Since our camp does not have a pool, we ran to an adjacent camp, a two-mile journey through the woods and brush on a trail with a few ups and downs. At the end of the two miles, a quick shower was followed by a refreshing dip in the pool. While I am not the strongest runner, I luckily have no problem in the pool. A quick down and back, and we were out of the pool and back on the trail to our camp. In the end, a four-mile run, with a quick swim in the middle. It was a great PT session, and of course it was competitive as usual. The pool being the great equalizer, I was able to improve my finish by about 25 places.  

A few group mentoring sessions this week with the Sergeant Major (equivalent of our CMSgt), have left me with a better understanding of the Marine Corps rank structure and relationships between the senior enlisted ranks. A split occurs when Marines are promoted to the grade of E-8, with some Marines becoming MSgt’s and some pinning on the rank of First Sergeant. I was able to provide a brief synopsis of our rank structure, hopefully shedding some light on our promotion system.

We ran a second Marine Corps PT Test this morning. It was not for score, just a measuring stick for the schools PT program. I can attest it has worked, as my 3-mile run time improved nearly two minutes, and I was able to keep myself in a new group of runners on the way. Even though every Marine knew the score did not count, everyone I saw was giving 100%, another testament of the dedication of these great professionals.

More from Camp Pendleton on graduation week.

(Picture attached: Gunnery Sergeants Truite, Raterink, and Standifird, along with me getting ready for the PT test 2 June 2010. The shirt we are wearing is the school PT uniform.)

Memorial Day ceremony at Air Force Memorial

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy and Airmen from around the DC area celebrated Memorial Day with a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington. Below are photos taken by Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Sarracino.

U.S. Air Force bugler Master Sgt. Ken Oedemann, left, plays taps while Air Force Honor Guard member, Staff Sgt. Matthew Massoth salutes at a Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Monday.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James A. Roy, center, salutes a wreath during the Memorial Day ceremony held at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Monday. Chief Roy is flanked by Dan Derrow of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association and Jim Lauducci of the Air Force Association.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James A. Roy addresses a crowd during a Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. Monday. Chief Roy is flanked by Dan Derrow of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association and Jim Lauducci of the Air Force Association.

Blog Spotlight: Boots in the Doorway

*Occasionally, Air Force Live puts the spotlight on individual blogs written by Airmen or their family members. These blogs provide an unofficial glimpse into the various aspects of Air Force life. Opinions expressed are those of the bloggers and are not endorsed by the US Air Force.

For Cheryl, home is wherever the Air Force sends her and her family.

So far, the California-native has lived in Mississippi, Kansas, Texas, Florida and Arizona, all in support of her active-duty Air Force husband, who is currently deployed for eight months. As a stay-at-home mother of two children, she shares her experiences in her blog, Boots in the Doorway, writing candidly about the ups and downs of life during a deployment.

“The airport allows military families  to go to the gate so that they can spend a little more time together which we were very thankful for,” she wrote of sending her husband off on his deployment. “On our way 2 different people stopped Chris to thank him for his service. I always get choked up when that happens because it means so much to hear that from people. It reminds me how proud and special all our military are and that our journeys tend to be a little different then civilians in so many ways that can’t be explained.”

Since then, she’s shared everything from class field trips with her daughter to preparing care packages for her husband, all while reflecting on what it means to serve from the homefront when it literally feels like half her heart is in Iraq. 

“I never know what is going to spark that emotion in me that can break me down in a instant,” she wrote recently. “Sometimes its driving by his work or seeing his uniform hanging in the closet, finding his favorite hot sauce hidden in the fridge, his razors in the cabinet or that song you hear on the radio.”

Recently, Cheryl got a happy distraction via a spouse incentive flight at her base on a KC-135 Stratotanker, where the ladies got to watch an F-15 refuel in the air. She was able to take photos and a short video clip of the flight for her blog.

“We took turns taking tons of pictures and watching the action,” she wrote. “I HIGHLY suggest you take the opportunity if it comes available to go on a spouse flight. They were happy to do it since they want the spouses to be excited about the Air Force so we encourage our hubby’s to stay active.”

To read more about Cheryl’s experience as the Air Force wife of a deployed Airman, visit Boots in the Doorway.