Success is in training

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Michael Little
  • Detachment 8 chief
Nothing drives me crazy like asking a person a question and being told, "I don't know and the person who does know is gone." The first thought I have is, "All these people and only one person knows the answer. Why even have other people in the office?" We all know that in the military, people take leave, get sick, go to professional military education or are deployed daily. So what good reason would there be to only have one person trained?

We are still the best Air Force in the world. We have the best aircraft that can be brought to the fight, which are maintained by the best maintainers in the world. One could not happen without the other. The world has changed and we no longer just deal with problems from sovereign countries; we have to adjust daily to rogue groups. This has caused all branches of the military to be stretched thin at times, creating numerous issues. The only way to ensure we continue to be the best in the world is for everyone to reach out to others and teach them.

No matter what changes happen in the military, more manning, less manning or another deployment, one thing is certain - if we do not have trained technicians, we will not succeed. New technology, with the purpose of making life easier, is great, but will be of no assistance if people are not qualified to fix it when it breaks. There is no argument today's tempo is extremely high, and honestly, can wear down the most-dedicated person. This very important fact is not lost or ignored by Air Force leadership. One of the great things about military personnel is they don't like to lose, and if everyone, from the newest Airman to the most experienced NCO, can come together, the problem can be fixed. We have been doing more with less for years now. This means fewer bodies to accomplish more requirements. What some people forget is that we are a smarter Air Force; we only need to capitalize on what we have and build on it by ensuring people are not forgotten and are correctly trained.

It is everyone's responsibility to train others, not just assigned trainers or supervisors. Technical schools only have the assets, manning and time to train new Airmen to a certain level. Once new Airmen arrive to base, it is up to everyone to "go the extra mile" and give these new Airmen the specific tools and knowledge to get the job done safely and right. This is an extremely important task and is every military member's responsibility.

Could going above and beyond to train others keep you at work longer? Yes. It will take more time the first or second time, but they will learn and increase productivity if given the chance. In the long run, we would go from a handful of experienced technicians to a large pool of well-trained and experienced technicians. This in no way removes the responsibility from the inexperienced Airmen or NCOs. If you do not know something, it is your personal responsibility to get involved and find someone to train you.

When the time comes, and you are an experienced 5- or 7-level, you're good to go, right? No. People tend to stick to what shop or section they are in. They get in their "comfort zone" and prefer to stay there. Once you reach this point, it can hamper the mission by creating the "not my job" attitude. Getting the mission accomplished is everyone's job, and it's not a single specialty or person who makes the mission a success. So when the door opens to learn other jobs and tasks outside your specialty, jump on it. Having more experience will benefit everyone in the long run and sets a positive example for younger Airmen to follow. When new Airmen reach their first base, we need to instill the importance of training on Day 1.

Everyone starts out young and inexperienced, and it's up to everyone to give them the knowledge they need to succeed. Training equals more QUALIFIED people to do the job, not just one person that can answer a question or troubleshoot the jet. These young Airmen and NCOs need to be trained to a high standard NOW, because one day, after we are long gone, they will be the ones making the decisions in our Air Force. Don't be the person in the office or on the flight line who has to say, "I don't know." I for one want to feel I left the greatest Air Force in the world better than I when came in.