It is not just about you anymore

By Senior Master Sgt. Shae Alamo
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
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I could break out any Air Force Instruction, The Enlisted Force Structure, Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1, or even “The Little Blue Book” of the Air Force Core Values, all of which will tell you how to be the Airman you are supposed to be. All noncommissioned officer’s should know these to make themselves better Airmen and to ensure all Airmen whose paths they cross are moving in the right direction.

I have had people ask me before, “Have you filled all the boxes to become a master sergeant, senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant?” Many have asked me what boxes they need to check to make it to these ranks. The boxes I am referring to are such things as completing your Community College of the Air Force degree, course 14, fitness standards and participation in professional organizations. While these must be met as you prepare to make the next rank, this is not all that needs to be done.

As an Airman, I was working on what I needed to do to be successful. I was not worried about anyone but myself. Once I transitioned into an NCO, I gained Airmen under my watch. I was no longer responsible for just myself, but for others who were following down the same path. This was a learning experience for me, because I was transitioning from an all-about me mentality to an all-about me and the Airmen in my work center mentality.

I was only worried about my Airmen staying out of trouble, fulfilling their requirements and looking better than everyone else in the accolades department. All the while unbeknownst to me, I was slowly transitioning and evolving as an Airman myself through many mentors, leaders, peers and Airmen that crossed my path. That is when the epiphany hit; it is not just about you anymore.

As I began transforming into a senior NCO, I began reflecting on the good and bad leaders along my career path and what they did that really made an impression on me. I literally created a journal of all these notes, writing down the characteristics that I wanted to have to make me a better Airman. But I also wrote down those characteristics I did not want to inherit. Airmen will quickly tell you of their not-so- good leaders and why they were not so good to them. It too was easy for me to bring these negative traits to light far more quickly than those of the good leaders.

My way of thinking began to change from negativity breeds negativity to positivity breeds positivity. I wanted to be that positive role model that Airmen were going to emulate as well as being their mentor; teaching them how to be great Airmen and leaders who others will follow.
It does not matter whether you are in a one-deep shop over a flight, over an entire squadron or higher; you should always take the time to learn what the agenda and expectations of your leader’s leader are. This will guide you in understanding, not only what it takes to ensure the success of your organization and your leader, but also the ability to explain to your Airmen their role they play in the bigger scheme of things.
Each Airman is vital in ensuring the Air Force mission does not fail. They are dependent upon those leading them to be capable of explaining the importance of their role in the Air Force. No matter what level of responsibility you are at, you affect every single Airman that you come into contact with — not just those you supervise.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “first impressions are lasting impressions.” This is so true as an NCO. Airmen will know if you are in it for yourself and if you are just “filling the blocks” towards promotion. Once again, it is not just about you anymore! Your simplest acts that you do will be noticed. Such things as picking up trash that is in your path, starting a care package program for those deployed, taking the time to ask about families, saying happy birthday or saying hello to everyone you walk by shows you care enough to put forth the effort to make everyone realize their importance.

Be the leader that does not just sit behind a desk, hides behind emails or only checks the blocks for the next rank. There is no way of checking a box when it comes to taking care of Airmen! Be active, be involved and be the individual that leads by example for all Airmen to follow, mentoring them down the right path as they will eventually replace you as the next generation of leaders of our Air Force!

When you take care of the Airmen, you are taking care of the Air Force. It is not just about you anymore.

It takes Airmen from every specialty to get the job done

by Lt. Gen. David Goldfein
Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command

Recently, two of our U.S. Air Forces Central Command Airmen were criticized
online by other Airmen for receiving Bronze Star decorations after completion of their
deployments to Afghanistan.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the rigorous awards board process and emphasize the meticulous manner in which we ensure each award is justifiable and each recipient is worthy.

We recognize and honor our Airmen for their meritorious and heroic actions.

Lt. Gen. David Goldfein

My AFCENT staff oversees a thorough awards approval process to ensure medals
are presented to only the most commendable candidates. This 20-year
decoration process has a demonstrated history of consistency, and we work
hard to maintain its integrity.

Led by a general officer, the board of combat-experienced colonels and chief master sergeants carefully and deliberately guarantee our Airmen deserve the awards they receive.

I am the final approving authority for each medal.

Every day, our innovative Airmen excel in the deployed environment.

Consider the security forces Airman who helped protect his base from more than 2,500
disgruntled Afghan citizens. He stood his ground, despite suffering detached
retinas, body bruises from thrown rocks and face wounds from high-powered
pellet rifles.

Or the KC-135 maintainer who worked in minus-20-degree temperatures to
extend the range and flexibility of our combat aircraft, which provide close
air support to protect coalition ground forces battling insurgents.

Or the finance officer who worked alongside special operations forces. She
executed $160 million in operational funds across eight remote forward
operating bases in support of counterinsurgency operations.

Or the combat controller who faced enemy fire and placed himself at grave risk on four
occasions while controlling more than 30 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes.

These are just a few examples of achievements that we reward in AFCENT.

No one Air Force specialty code is any more important than the next in this
theater — it takes the entire team working together to get the job done.

Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez and Tech Sgt. Sharma Haynes are the
bedrock of our organization.

While we face a determined enemy, he is no match for this combined arms
team. Together, with laser-like focus on our mission, with the knowledge
that no challenge we may face is too much for innovative Airmen, and
knowing that our cause is just … we will continue to deliver decisive
airpower for CENTCOM and America.

121,000 pounds in 15 seconds

By Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
U.S. Air Forces Central

Their flight suits are soaked through with sweat, it’s 110 degrees outside and the smell in the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III resembles a high school locker room — we’re 30 minutes into our 15-hour mission.

Air DropLike the majority of people who like to browse news on the war, I’ve seen many pictures and videos of supplies and cargo being dropped from an aircraft … the pallets of supplies float gracefully down and that is that. Never do I see the blood, sweat and tears that go behind getting those pallets to where they need to be.

The crew is alerted around 9 a.m. and arrives to the squadron 40 minutes later. They assemble for a highly detailed pre-mission brief that prepares the Airmen for what they will face during their mission.

Once processed through customs, it’s time to arm up and head to the plane. Today is my first combat airdrop mission; our location is somewhere in Southwest Asia. The air is heavy with humidity — you can actually feel the air on your skin. At this point, all we’ve done is place our bags on the C-17 and already our flight suits are drenched in sweat. Drops of perspiration are falling off the loadmaster’s face. We have 13 hours left in the day.

Even in the cargo bay of the massive aircraft, room is at a premium. More than 73,000 pounds of JP-8 fuel loaded on 40 pallets fill the aircraft from tail to nose, leaving just enough space for us to walk along the sides. The loadmaster’s voice comes over the speakers “ready for takeoff.” Within seconds our warehouse with wings is in the air.

Estimated time over target is two hours. The lights dim and things begin to cool off as we ascend.

As we get closer to the drop zone, Staff Sgt. Russ Johnson, an 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, signals a 30-minute warning. My two partners are no strangers to documenting airdrops, but for me, this is a new experience.

I strap myself into a seat in the back by the door. The aircraft dives, dips and dodges its way through the mountains of Afghanistan — I eye up the closest pile of puke-bags in case things go south for this guy.

The door opens at about 1,000 feet above the ground. I knew Afghanistan was mountainous, but I couldn’t have been prepared for what I saw. The mountains are high and the aircraft is low. It feels as though I could reach out and touch the mountaintops — I wasn’t too far off.

It’s game time. Red light … yellow light … green light. Within two seconds, 36,500 pounds of JP-8 fuel violently races past me and out the aircraft, floating down to coalition troops on the ground. Our second pass drops another load.

Gearing up for our third drop, a stop is made at Bagram Airfield (BAF) to refuel and load up another 48,000 pounds of Meals, Ready to Eat. As we’re parked on the ramp, the doors open and the tail goes down. For anyone who hasn’t been to BAF, it’s a sight to see. A bowl of mountains surround the airfield. On the ramp of the aircraft lay two loadmasters enjoying the sunset on what appears to be a peaceful evening.

With one pallet left to load on the plane, sirens go off. The peaceful moment disappears as the crew loading the plane runs for cover because, make no mistake about it, we are at war.

Air DropThe news team and aircrew shelter in place on the aircraft. The sirens disappear and a new noise is heard. A pair of fighter jets and helicopters take to the sky. We all agree, someone is about to have a bad day.

More than an hour passes before the last pallet is finally loaded.

The sun is down and the sky is dark. Red lights illuminate the cargo area of the plane.

In preparation for the last drop of the mission, the lights dim. Looking through the viewfinder of my camera is a daunting task as visibility is close to nonexistent. We’re effectively an invisible flying Wal-Mart under the night sky. In a matter of 10 seconds, the doors open, the MREs blast out the door and we are on our way home.

Fifteen hours for about 15 seconds of actual action. Action that will keep my brothers and sisters fed, and their vehicles working.

The men and women of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron from Joint Base Charleston are game changers. They allow coalition forces to sustain operations in some of the most austere locations on Earth. They are force multipliers.

Video: Airlift supports warfighter

Photo: (Top) Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Adams, an 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, observes 36,500 pounds of JP-8 fuel fly out the back of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft over Afghanistan July 8, 2011. The C-17 dropped more than 121,000 pounds of food and fuel during a 15-hour mission. Supplies were dropped to U.S. and coalition troops. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri) (Bottom) Staff Sgt. Adams releases 48,000 pounds of Meals, Ready to Eat out of the C-17 on July 8, 2011 over Afghanistan during the concealment of the night sky. The crews also airdropped more than 73,000 pounds of JP-8 fuel during their mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

Upcoming DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable with USAF Col. Eric Holdaway, AFCENT/AFFOR Director of Intelligence

As noted last week, U.S. Air Force Col. Eric Holdaway, AFCENT/AFFOR Director of Intelligence (A-2) is scheduled to participate in the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable on April 23, at 1000 ET. Col. Holdaway will discuss “Getting inside the enemy’s head through Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance.” He will also discuss new information-gathering capabilities being used to monitor, track, and target the enemy. These capabilities are also used in reducing non-combatant casualties. Check back here to read what Col. Holdaway had to say.

Intel: ‘Getting inside the enemy’s head through Air Force ISR’ BRT

We’re working to schedule Col. Eric Holdaway, Air Forces Central and Air Forces Forward Director of Intelligence, for a Blogger’s Roundtable. He’ll discuss new information-gathering capabilities being use to monitor, track, and target the enemy. We hear these capabilities are also being used in reducing non-combatant casualties. Is this something the Blogosphere is interested in?