Air Force Lieutenant Crunches the Big Numbers in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Frost
  • Combat Journalist
For many in the military, it's hard to repress the memory of when they knew they were bound to wear a uniform. Airmen are no exception to this. Often, just seeing an aircraft soar through the sky above or seeing a massive cargo aircraft parked on the tarmac is enough to show the door to the blue.

For 1st Lt. Matthew Beck, currently assigned to the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq, it all began when he was only 6 years old. His grandfather, a master sergeant in the Michigan Air National Guard, would take him to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.

"That's what piqued my interest in the Air Force growing up - spending weekends at the Selfridge base," said Beck, taking time to reflect on memories of his grandfather in his flight suit. "I fell in love with the planes."

Before long, his childhood love of airplanes fueled his ambition to become an officer in the Air Force.

"I was interested in going to the academy since I was in fourth, fifth, sixth grade," said the lieutenant, a 2004 graduate of the Air Force Academy. "I thought it would be cool to be a cadet."

After graduating the academy, the Howell, Mich., native picked up and moved to his first - and current - duty station, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

Now Beck finds himself in Baghdad serving his country during wartime by working in the strategic plans and programs section of the comptroller unit at MNSTC-I.

"...Our job in a nutshell is to plan out what the costs of the transition of security will be for the U.S. government and the Iraqi government," Beck said. "It's the money factor behind the command's mission."

That mission for MNSTC-I means playing a role in the transfer of the security of Iraq into the hands of Iraqis.

The lieutenant's particular job within the command has not come without its own set of challenges. "Like any deployed job there's not a lot of room for training," said Beck. "It's like you have to show up and know what you're doing."

Despite the steep learning curve associated with the job, Beck said he has found that working with different services such as the Army, Navy, and Marines, and working with other countries in the coalition has brought him valuable experience and is one of the best parts of his job.

The other part, Beck said, is helping the Iraqis. "It feels good to be over here - working the mission, helping them secure their own country," said Beck. "I think it's important for us to be here."

Just like the many Airmen who looked to the sky and joined the Air Force, Beck brings a passion for his duties and a love for his country. From the 6 year old looking up to his grandfather in his flight suit, to the academy graduate and finally to the Airman warrior in Iraq, Beck continues his Air Force journey.