It's time to share the baton

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Connie L. Bias
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
When it comes to training, the Air Force does it right. Extensive technical school and officer preparation courses, immediate on-the-job training requirements, and constant training upgrades in a well-rounded breadth of job and leadership areas consistently meld our military into a skilled and ever-improving force.

With the looming manning consequences of force shaping, though, it's time for us to step it up and become even more proactive in training others and increasing our own job and military-related knowledge. Specifically, experienced servicemembers are in a critical position to start sharing everything we know - now.

Do I sound fanatic? A bit overzealous, perhaps?

The nine-man PA office in which I work is losing three officer positions, an administrative slot and an additional NCO position, leaving three enlisted PAs and one civilian to perform the public affairs mission, with no officer leadership or representation. And we're not alone. Similar cuts are beginning to happen all over the Air Force in almost every career field. So yes, I do think that urgency in preparing the force for the manning transition is important.

I do not think, however, that we're entering an impossible situation - far from it, in fact. Force shaping and decreased manning are not sob stories over which servicemembers have no control. Yes, the manning cuts will take place, we will continue to deploy and we will still be expected to complete our home-station missions. Over these facts we have no say. How we prepare ourselves for the immediate future, though, depends a lot upon us - upon our drive to succeed and supplement existing skills, our creativity in working smartly, and our ability and willingness to share knowledge with those around us.

Passing that knowledge baton is a key component to success in upcoming years. Wide-spread NCO cuts will mean that our newest Airmen are expected to take on more leadership roles, know more about their fields in a shorter amount of time, and be accountable for more actions, assets and responsibilities. Our young lieutenants will be in a similar position, given a shorter learning curve before they're expected to fill higher levels of leadership and lead more people. Career NCOs and officers will also have additional job duties, higher expectations and a steady workload to complete with less people.

Open communication channels and a heavy flow of job knowledge will help us meet and surpass these challenges. Can you take on a new member of your shop or office as a job shadow for a day, or even a week? If so, do it, and share everything you know. Can you implement training tips in your weekly staff meetings? Do it, and take advantage of your knowledgeable Airmen. Have you been putting off additional-duty training? Find the time to complete it so you have more self-knowledge to share with others, and keep looking for additional ways to increase knowledge and competency around your unit.

As we march forward into a leaner expeditionary Air Force, let's do so with a consistency in training standards that belies our decreasing numbers. We can start to achieve this in our daily work environments by creating a common knowledge base between co-workers and placing a high priority on total-force learning.