If I never mentioned my job here, it’s because I’m still trying to figure out what to make of it. The past couple months have been like a crash course in what supervising’s all about. They put me on a flight that’s had a lot of trouble pulling together in the past, and is still having some trouble, but there’s been a huge turnover in personnel this season. I’m not the only newbie on flight by a long shot – the Mission Soup[1] is new, one of the block controllers[2] is new, and about two-thirds of the ops[3] are new. Senior leadership has sort of handed it to us to remake Dawg flight,[4] even while we remain the butt of jokes.

I’m the only TSgt on the operations floor, so I picked up three troops to supervise right off the bat. One of them’s a hard-charging Levitow award winner,[5] one of them’s mediocre, and one is considered by just about everybody with more than five stripes to be a ‘problem child.’ I think her biggest problem has been bad supervision and a tendency to procrastinate; I know she’s smart and can do better. Trouble is, she’s determined to get out in twelve short months. I’d like to leave her with a better impression of the Air Force than she has now. The Levitow winner is a challenge equally as huge – how do I make sure he gets everything he deserves from his career? I worry about dropping the ball.

Because I’m a TSgt, the Mission Soup put me in a management slot, overseeing the HF floor.[6] I not only had a big job to take on, I had to learn just what the heck it was my own darned self, because my trainer, the previous Chief HFS, thought that the job was mostly about socializing and taking CBT courses during duty hours instead of showing me what to do.[7] I’m sure I still don’t know half the ins and outs. I’ve supervised an ops floor on a smaller scale, but that was a while ago and, as I remember (maybe my memory is going), it wasn’t anything like this. This job moves at a mile a minute; there’s never a dull moment.[8]

Where am I going with this? I really don’t know. The largest part of my job seems to be putting out fires, and that comes right after trying to plan ahead so the fires never get started in the first place (Don’t laugh. I can dream). After that, I’m just trying to take care of people, and that’s damn near impossible, too. Only a few of the supervisors are taking the job seriously; too many good airmen are falling through the cracks, so on top of trying to make sure the mission gets done, I get to try to straighten that out, too.[9]

[10/22/2014: Time for some boring details:

I worked in an office that operated round-the-clock. I call it an “office” because it was indoors. Our work unit was really many units that worked together.

1. The Mission Superintendent was called “mission soup” – that’s just how it was pronounced; it was not meant as a slam against his character. At least not that I know of. The Mission Superintendent made sure everybody did what they were supposed to do; he (or she) was a non-commissioned officer. At Misawa, the mission soup was a USAF Master Sergeant or a Navy Chief Petty Officer. There were no Army Mission Superintendents while I was there.

2. The operations floor was divided into work units called “blocks,” and a non-commissioned officer, usually a Staff Sergeant, was put in charge of each block. They were known as a block controllers.

3. The airman who worked in each block were referred to as operators, or “ops.”

4. A squadron is made up of two or more flights. Instead of being numbered, they were named A, B, C or D. I have never heard of a squadron with more than four flights. When I was in the Air Force, they were still using the old phonetic alphabet to refer to flights, so they were called Able, Baker, Charlie and Dawg.

5. John Levitow was the youngest non-commissioned officer in the USAF to be awarded the medal of honor. The Levitow Award is given to one person in each class in leadership development school.

6. “The HF floor” was four blocks working together.

7. Not exaggerating even a little bit here. My predecessor spend her time during duty hours finishing her on-line college courses and gossiping with her friends.

8. I remembered that wrong. My previous job supervising an ops floor was in Denver. Compared to Misawa, that was like supervising the demigods from Mount Olympus.

9. I think this was originally written as a letter to somebody, maybe my brother, and then expanded on when I wrote it as a blog post.

Footnotes. Really. In a blog. How pretentious.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s