Tag Archives: SNCO

Success through leadership


Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle

By Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle
27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron

Having served 18 years in the Air Force, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn from and work beside some of the greatest leaders the military has ever seen. I do not claim to be a subject matter expert on leadership, nor do I consider myself to be a great leader. However, I know enough about the subject to share my thoughts on how great leadership can result in a successful unit.

The Air Force defines leadership as the art of influencing and directing people to accomplish the mission. This very difficult task can be accomplished if leaders at every level keep two very important elements in mind, successfully completing the mission, and taking care of their people.

Great leaders know the importance of their unit’s personnel and their role in mission success. Gen. Curtis E. Lemay, former Air Force Chief of Staff stated, “No matter how well you apply the art of leadership, no matter how strong your unit or how high the morale of your men, if your leadership is not directed completely toward the mission, your leadership has failed.”

I’ve always believed that this meant that, as a leader, if I was taking care of my Airmen and their needs it would ensure that the unit’s mission would be successful.

All Airmen are able to be leaders regardless of position or rank. Leadership isn’t something everyone is born with; it’s learned and developed.

How we develop ourselves and our Airmen will determine if we’ll ever truly become effective leaders. It’s important that we continue to add to our leadership toolkit by seeking professional military education, on-the-job training and professional development.

A great leader will ensure that his or her subordinates are given the opportunities to learn leadership traits through deliberate development. It’s through these experiences that we gain the qualities it takes to be a great leader.

Although there are many leadership qualities to speak of, there are a few that I have seen make lasting impacts on personnel and units across my career.

I believe enthusiasm is the most contagious of all. Throughout time the most successful leaders have demonstrated enthusiasm for the mission and their people. A leader’s enthusiasm is contagious and will spread through a unit to motivate others to adjust to the unit’s needs.

As leaders we must demonstrate a commitment to the Air Force, our unit’s mission, and our subordinates. If we do this, our Airmen will want to follow us.

As leaders we must do not only what we ask our Airmen to do, but also more. We must be credible at all times. Remember that we all are on parade and must avoid showing stress when dealing with challenging situations.

Communication is a two-way process. Listen to what your people are saying, because they often have great ideas. Share the importance of the mission and its impact on national interests. A well-informed Airman recognizes the importance of his or her job and will be more effective.

Leaders are responsible for the unit’s mission; if it fails we must accept the consequences. Accountability is also essential. Reward a job well done and hold those who fail to meet the established standards accountable.

Throughout my time here at Cannon, I have witnessed the many successes the 27th Special Operations Wing has accomplished.

I believe this is a direct correlation to the great leadership we have developed. These are Air Commandos at all levels, not just senior officers or NCOs but Airmen as well, those who want this wing to be successful not for personal gain, but because it is expected.

I challenge you to find leadership opportunities that will provide you with additional professional development. Make time to take advantage of educational opportunities at Cannon. Taking these actions will ensure the wing continues to develop leaders needed for its continued success.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, takes a proud stance just outside the Security Forces building at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 21, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Carlotta Holley)


 By Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen McCool
Air Force Recruiting Service

While on an aircraft recently my seven-year-old son pointed out the window and asked me what was below. As I replied “mountains” he got a strange look on his face and said “that’s funny, they don’t look so tall from up here.” Senior Master Sgt. McCool

As I reflected on what he said I realized his statement mirrored my career. As I was looking ahead at each challenge I faced, the mountains appeared so tall, but as I climbed them and looked back down I discovered they weren’t as tall as I thought they were.

My first “mountain” came on the morning of Aug. 3, 1995, when my dad drove me to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Phoenix, Ariz. I can remember it as if it was yesterday — standing under the fluorescent lights outside the building. The fear that had been building over the last year in the Delayed Entry Program was now staring me in the face. I was leaving home for the first time to attend Basic Military Training (BMT). The “mountain” seemed enormous and I almost begged my dad to take me back home, but his words of encouragement were the reason I was able to walk into the building that morning and survive the next six weeks of basic.

It wasn’t until three years later when I returned to BMT that I realized the “mountain” didn’t seem so tall. These experiences continued throughout my career as a health services apprentice, a member of the base honor guard, a military training instructor and here in recruiting duty. I have been fortunate to have many mentors and peers along the way who made the climb much more enjoyable. As you face mountains, find someone to help with your climb and know that someday you will be able to look back on each “mountain” in a different light.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen McCool (right), Air Force Recruiting Service recruiter screening team superintendent, counsels a prospective recruiter. She was recognized as the Air Education and Training Command senior noncommissioned officer of the year for 2010. (courtesy photo)

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.)