Why The Backbone Needs To Get One


    Apparently JQ Public, someone who should know better, took the anonymous comments of someone in the USAF and re-posted them.  Here I would like to address someone else's whining he posted..


    I am now going to go through it line by line and rebut everything.  The original author's words (and quotes) in italics:

Dear Boss,

Well, I quit. I am finally to the point where putting on this uniform feels worse than dousing myself in scalding water. I grew up in the Air Force, and I believed it stood for something. I used to think the Air Force was the best in the world. I believed in saluting my flag, and standing side-by-side with my fellow Airmen through anything. I believed in honoring a legacy and this nation’s cloth I wear. I felt a sense of pride and honor to protect this country that I love so much. Now, all I see when I put on this uniform is everything the Air Force has taken from me – my dignity, my faith in humanity and, most recently, my basic rights.

First, this type of comment makes me wonder why you haven't engaged with mental health.

Second, how did the USAF take these things from you?  Your dignity is your own: no one can take that from you without you allowing it.  As for faith in humanity, apparently you've been focusing only on the negative things people do.  Why not focus on the positive?  Sure, there are people that I don't like, and that are not good people, but there are also plenty of people that have a heart of gold.  As for your basic rights, you'd need to be more specific.

I knew when I raised my right hand and swore to protect and defend that I would have to make sacrifices, and I was okay with that. I knew I would miss birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals. I knew I would have to put the Air Force before my own needs, all in the name of protecting those I love the most. I have done that – for the past 10 years. For 10 years of my early adult life I have put this institution before myself. I’ve worked 12-14 hour days, constantly. I’ve taken all the courses, done all the trainings and become an expert at every administrative job in the Air Force. I’ve done everything the Air Force has asked me to do, without question or complaint, and for what?

Why have you been working more than 12 hours?  To do so, at least in a maintainer career field, is wrong.  The regulation for our work hours doesn't specify on or off equipment, meaning you shouldn't be doing this.  It should be, by far, the exception to the rule, and only in dire emergencies, not all the time.

I have been micromanaged every step of my career. At first, I thought it was because I was new … and I needed to learn what the Air Force was all about. Well … I guess now I know. It’s all about micromanagement, and doing much, MUCH more with much, MUCH less. We’re told by the SecAF, CSAF and CMSAF to say when ‘enough is enough.’ Well … ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! However, when those thoughts are vocalized, we get the standard – ‘well, figure it out.’ WHAT?! How am I supposed to do 32 hours worth of work in 24? Oh … and still do my PME (or heaven forbid I might not be able to reenlist), and do all my additional duties (which all have program managers who should, in theory, actually be the ones who own those duties), and focus on my education (which, even though I already have a bachelor’s degree and am technically overqualified for my current position, I guess the Air Force wants me to be qualified to do my OIC’s job as well), and remain ‘fit to fight,’ and spend at least 10 hours a week volunteering (that’s low-balling, I’m sure). I guess I shouldn’t even bother trying to have a healthy relationship with my spouse or family. It’s no wonder I find myself happier at the bottom of a bottle than in actual conversations with real people.

First, look back on your life: have you been micromanaged the whole time?  Also, don't confuse holding people accountable and making them do what is required of them with micromanaging.  Can you look back on your whole career and tell me there's not even one thing you did that warranted supervision taking a special interest in you?

Second, have you engaged your supervisor?  Your chief?  Your supervision?  Your commander?  Have you gotten them to offload some of your work load?  Or are you doing what is more common, taking on all the work because you can't delegate?  Because I am guilty of that, too.

Third, your education is so that you can get a good job on the outside, not just to be "qualified" for your job. No one can force you to go to college.  Apparently you want to make rank if you're doing college.

Fourth, didn't you learn time management in ALS?  You might need to refresh your memory on its principles.

Fifth, your comment on alcohol use sounds like you are asking for help.  Please seek out help for the problems you are going through.

I’m just really tired. I’m tired of hearing that Airmen are the #1 priority, but not seeing it. I’m tired of jumping through hoops just to find myself back at square one – speaking of squares … I’m tired of the reasoning behind doing anything these days is to put a checkmark in a little box that doesn’t actually mean anything. I’m tired of staying late at work just because it ‘looks bad’ to go home on time. I’m tired of E-8’s and E-9’s who are more concerned with ‘being seen’ than actually doing right by their people. I’m tired of them being lapdogs for colonels and commanders while the ‘backbone of the Air Force’ is so strained it’s going to need traction for at least eight months. I’m tired of having to stop my job for ‘wingman day’ or ‘resiliency training’ where I learn that it’s bad to rape people. Umm … I’m pretty sure I’ve known that for my entire life and I certainly don’t need a ‘stand-down day’ to be reminded of it. I’m tired of ‘mandatory fun’ where I’m supposed to act like I really support and enjoy this forced-motivation BS being crammed down my throat. All these senior leaders who laugh at the stupidest jokes, just to make sure they get a good rating on their next OPR or a stratification for Chief.

First, the check mark in the box (if you're talking about the ACA or the EPR) does mean something.  Where it goes astray isn't at the guidance or the intent.  It's at the point where people don't follow it.  I am betting $20 that the EPR goes back to being overinflated within 5 years.  I think it already has gone that way, based on feedback from other people I meet at various TDYs.  It won't fail because the USAF's system is poorly designed.  It will be because we don't follow it.

Second, who is saying it looks good to stay at work way late?  Is that the type of example you want your people to see?  That would make me not want to make rank, seeing it result in 12s or more.

Third, if you consider following instructions from commanders "being a lapdog", then let me ask you this: when they ask for comments, do you engage them tactfully and give them good feedback, or do you just say "yes sir"?  Commanders want honest feedback: have you been giving this?

Fourth, please pay attention to the training on resiliency days.  The principles within this resiliency training have literally saved my career and my life.  It sounds to me like you're experiencing the downward spiral.  I challenge you to break free of that trap and engage with this training: it can help you.

Fifth, you need to read the research of Dr. Ariely on integrity and other authors.  Integrity isn't like riding a bicycle, where you do it once and never need to re-learn it.  We need constant moral reminders.

Oh … and as a side note. While those ‘wingman days’ and ‘resiliency days’ seem like they’re a great idea because you don’t have to be at work … it’s all just an illusion. Your workload doubles or triples because you spent an entire day learning about things that every decent human being already knows. I don’t think it’s the Air Force’s job to teach me how to be a functioning adult in society.

Well that sort of happened at my last assignment in PACAF.  But our commander engaged with the operations group and they slightly reduced their flying to help us catch a breath.  We went from 12s through the weekend to 8 hour days ... on swing shift.  Your supervision can engage above them and get some value added (or break through the chains of illusions of value added).

Anyway. I’m also disappointed. I’m disappointed in what has happened to this institution. The world’s greatest Air Force? Doubtful. With all the scandals, lack of accountability, micro-management and abuse of authority, it’s a wonder we haven’t been knocked out of the skies yet. I don’t want that to happen … I never want that to happen, but it will. We are losing the best and brightest in droves. The only people staying in the Air Force these days are the people who could never make it on the outside. The degenerates … the ones who actually, probably, DO need that training that teaches you how to be a decent human being.

There will be scandals and lacks of accountability everywhere.  You think civilian sector is better at this?  I don't think you see the big picture.  The big picture is that there will always be human beings in your work center.  You can't control them, but you can control yourself, and how you react to it.  Help and fix those you can, boot the rest out.

How do you know who will and won't make it on the outside?  No one can predict the future.  You're engaging in self-fulfilling prophecies.

The smart ones are jumping ship, before being sucked further into this oppressive and deceitful organization. Airmen are now being taught they have no rights, and that speaking out against something they believe to be wrong will land them in serious trouble, if not legal proceedings. Is this really what we want for our Air Force? Are these really the people we want leading our military? How can you expect Airmen to defend the freedoms of others if they don’t even think they have those freedoms themselves? We’re told we’re ‘powered by innovation’ but that only applies to innovative ideas that fit neatly inside the box the Air Force has decided to be acceptable variance from the status quo. Please.

First, you say the smart ones are jumping ship?  Haven't you just insulted yourself, since you didn't leave?

Second, airmen are being taught that they can speak out.  They're even encouraged to do so.  If they're not being taught this, like about the IG, JAG, etc, why aren't you telling them?  I recall being taught at least once a year about my rights to speak out, even if only through the computer based training on ADLS.  If your airmen don't know this, either you failed or they aren't listening.  Fix it.

Third, if you're talking about freedoms we gave up, like that sign on the front gate that says 24/7 surveillance or that a commander can authorize search and seizure, you probably need to re-think your comment.  We did "give up" certain rights.  But even then, that would indicate a lack of understanding about rights.  I "gave up" my right to say anything I want when I joined the military, like not to run around saying things I should not.  I can still do this if I want, because I still technically have the right to say whatever I want, but I'll definitely be punished for doing so, and rightfully so.  Please go read The Federalist Papers.

So, that’s it for me. I refuse to further my career and become a boot-licking E-9 who cares more about his golf game and apparent compliance than he does about his Airmen. The E-9 who no longer wants to be the gritty, crusty, cranky top enlisted member who bucks the system when things are wrong, making sure there is a balance between the bureaucracy of the officer corps and the (fading) irreverence of the blue-collar NCO corps. I mean, let’s be honest … I’d never make it that far. Those positions are now reserved for the box-checkers. The people who start stepping on people early in their career and who have no idea what it means to be a true leader. This is what has become of my Air Force, and it breaks my heart.

If you truly have a "boot-licking E-9 who cares more about his golf game" then you should address it.  Engage with him.  If he refuses and you have clear evidence that he is destroying his unit, take some witnesses to these abuses over to the IG's office.  Once you have identified a problem that is within your ability to take action but you don't, it's no longer their fault but yours.

But you associate "bucking the system" with being a good chief.  Do you only care about how much you like your supervision and not how actually good or bad they are?  Comments like this make me wonder why you feel like you must comment anonymously.  Are you too scared to do it in person?  You're not helping the situation when you run and hide.

With all of that said, and with absolutely no respect whatsoever (since none is due), I submit my resignation. May God have mercy on the future generations of Airmen, and on the awesome and powerful mission entrusted to this Air Force.

Regardless of whether you respect a person, you should respect their rank.  But of course, anonymous post, etc.

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