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Terrible leadership--war stories?

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F15 Ret/FDX/InterviewPrep
Nov 25, 2001
AF bros,

As I enjoyed the Opie/Kingwood discussion on the Majors board about hanging for 20 vice bailing at the first chance, I couldn't help but notice the different perceptions of current leadership.

Let me start by saying I've been VERY satisfied with most of my commanders and supervisors in the AF. There have been a few mid-level supervisors here and there I haven't liked, and some OG/Wing level guys I thought were out of touch, but by in large I thought most guys I had the chance to work with were not only pretty good leaders doing the best they could, but they were the kind of guys I would enjoy having over to the house on Saturday for a cookout and beer (given the opportunity). Have I just been blessed, or maybe I am a bit of an optimist (or Pollyanna?)

Tonight a buddy who flies F-16s (okay...I have a FEW Viper friends....I just don't advertise that..) gave me some stories about a sqdn CC at a nameless AF base. He actually thought the guy was a good guy, but here are some leadership "pearls" he has thrown down recently.....

--No need to go to the gym during 9-5 on this TDY to Nellis..go to the weapons shop and study instead or go listen in on WIC briefings. Go to the gym at night on your own time. (excuse me....for 4 weeks? Isn't staying in shape part of my warrior culture and job responsibility?)

--No family members on this TDY! We are raging with the BOYS! (As if I didn't see enough of you on the last 120 day SWA rotation? Discresion is always advised on TDY..but a pure 100% BAN on family?)

--Burning leave is a badge of honor. I burned 21 days last year!

--To assist squadron manning....don't take leave Monday through Friday. Try to take Saturday to Monday if possible. Also...don't plan on my approving leave for the 3 days after a 4 day weekend...you need to take leave Saturday-following Monday, not Weds-Friday.

--Standard duty day is approx 12 hours, unless upgrading when it is 14-15.

My take on this is simply that even with great leadership, the AF lifestyle can be a real meatgrinder. The TDYs, stress, and high workoad make the job a challenge under the best of circumstances. If this guy is indicative on what the F16 communtiy (or any community) regularly faces, then when stop loss finally does go away stand clear of the door--the stampede will be overwhelming towards the exit.

Hoping this guy is the exception, but I open the forum up for some of your "good" and "bad" examples of leadership. I'll add a laundry list of "good" that I've seen just here at my base later in the thread for balance, but I want to know if this guy is unique or if his clones are out wearing out the active duty folks.

Fly safe and fights on.

I haven't encountered any but I remember as a kid (early 80's) my dad banging his head against the dinner table (not litteraly) because of what his wing commander did in his unit. This guy was straight out of the Viet Nam how not to lead for officers handbook.

I remember having cookouts at our house and all the guys making fun of this commander. I think it was the only way they had to deal with him. Funny how much you can pick up on as a kid. Some of thoes guy would stand in the shallow end of our pool and see how far into the deep end they could throw me. Now one of the guys that tossed me is my wing commander, I'd walk through a wall of fire for him and he's always welcome at my place....as long as he brings the beer.
I've been fairly pleased with our leadership. Of course, everybody's going to find things to complain about, but it's nice to see that somebody's got it worse than us.

No need to go to the gym during 9-5 on this TDY to Nellis..go to the weapons shop and study instead or go listen in on WIC briefings.

We start out wanting to do the latter, but it gets old when that's all you have to do on a TDY. On our last deployment, if we got weather cancelled, we were in the gym by 1100.

No family members on this TDY! We are raging with the BOYS!

Again, that gets old. Great bunch of guys, but some dudes will bring their families. A lot of times it's more because the spouses just want to get out and travel somewhere cool.

--Burning leave is a badge of honor. I burned 21 days last year!

This is sort of a thorn in our side. Guys are piling up use or lose leave (I've got 20-ish days, one guy has 41 days) because the opportunities to take it are slim with the amount of work we have. In addition, our policy is that only three pilots and three WSOs can be on leave at a time. We've got a leave book to put in your request - it extends to the end of 2003 and many of those slots are already filled. This isn't a leadership problem, though, it's a manning/Ops Tempo problem. What the boss has done is encouraged us to burn leave in the middle of the week if we're not scheduled for anything - just take local leave and relax, hang out with the family.

It could always be worse, so you won't hear me complain.
I just want to thank the my old company commander for giving me the motivation to get where I am today. He was a micro-manager who did not trust anyone.:confused: He took the fun out of doing our jobs.
I love my new career now and I am so much happier!
Thank you sir!:)
Having come from an enlisted background, (Nine years) I find the current leadership issues ya'll in the rated community are dealing with amazing. I knew the OPS tempo was getting bad when I took the early out a few years ago, but I had no idea it had become what I read in the various posts. My heart really does go out to you guys and gals, nothing takes the fun out of active duty faster than working for an incompetent boob/moron. That having been said, here's a little bit of Mcpeak bashing for everyone's enjoyment:

The guy was nutty. I did a tour in the Air Force Honor Guard during a portion of his tenure. I was unfortunate enough to observe and even participate during briefings. (Pre-ceremony) Most every General Officer I ever met was genial, warm and at least somewhat pleasant to be around. Mcpeak was obtuse, unable to smile, and if he didn't like the first 30 seconds of your briefing he would hijack the whole process with inane questions. Because of this tendency, he more than once missed simple cues during a ceremony resulting in much embarresment for the rest of us. I was an usher once at a pentagon arrival, standing behind the various service chiefs prior to the ceremony. The Chief of Staff of the Army and Commandant of the Marine Cops engaged me in conversation about "my Chief of Staff" and attempting to get one another to wager on which uniform he would come out dressed in. (The best money was riding on what the Commandant called the "RCAF gettup."

I know these stories don't have much to do with aviation, but for those of you who witnessed Merrill's edicts undermine years of tradition, I thought you might enjoy a bit of insight into what he was like. (Albiet from some anonymous SSgt)

I always like the story about a SAC O-5 Det CC, who was summoned to Randolph for a command-sponsered meeting on among other things, pilot retention problems. The manpower folks did a little slide show on airline benifits as part of their overall presentation on why everyone was leaving. Spouses were invited. The presention was so impressive this gentleman's wife suggested maybe he should get one of those airline jobs. He swung through DFW....... had a talk with the AA folks......and the rest is history. He's currently an MD-80 Capt.

At any rate, to those of you who are serving. THANK YOU. I have discussions with my four and five year old every few days about what the military is and how you folks have "The most important job there is." And how you are all "very special people." (Gotta keep it simple for the youngin's.)

OK..good stuff

Long post alert.....skip if you are looking for complaints or flamebait.

Ok..as promised...some "good" stories from 14 years active duty.

Sqdn CC says the Friday NESMs (never ending squadron meetings) have to stop. Fridays are for golf, boozin' at Oclub, and families. All meetings moved to Thursday PM. Ops O or ADO has "gong" for overly long stupid briefs. Faster, funnier...go home! Fridays go to one go Fridays, and everyone is off by 1300 or so. Another inspiration: Water survival training is moved to local lake in mid-summer. After required events families invited for water ski party/cookout afterwards.

As an LT, I shot a rocket off an OV-10 off axis during roll in to range (fat thumbs?). Ranger called "unscorable 3" but didn't kick me off range (but could have!). Feeling exactly 1.5 inches tall after landing I went and told Ops O what happened. Fine...debriefed....end of discussion was his reply. A week later somehow someone in Wing HQ heard about incident and wanted to "disicipline" me for my mistake. My Sqd CC said this was classic "mistake not crime" type deal.... Sqdn CC called Wing ADO (who had started this ball rolling) and said while I overhead there "there was no **&% way" I was going to be disciplined, or have to brief other squadron on what happended, etc. He reminded that guy HE was the squadron CC and HE would take care of his guys...or they could replace him. Until then...butt out. To say I would have walked through fire for that man was then and still is a huge understatement. At the same time, there were dozens of Lts just like me who had seen him stand up for them at some time. The result was a tremedously loyal and fired up cult of Lts in that squadron, and that Sqdn CC went on to make O-6 and fly A-10s and F-16s the rest of his career. He is a beloved legend in the F16 world, and if he was still around active duty I'd take mil leave to work for him anywhere.

Another F15 sqd cc fought like heck to get a workout room installed in squadron. Small point...but when you are busy doing SOF, TOP 3, etc. it was a HUGE benefit. Same guy supported several of us going "ops to ops" when gettin' was good...so of course we just loved the man.

Another CC watched a bunch of us in a crud game getting rowdy, and when someone shattered a beer bottle on the wall some O-5 in civies had enough. He charged over, raising his voice, demanding to know name/rank of each of us involved in altercation. He informed us "ladies" were in bar and we were out of line being so fired up. He then demanded to know the name/whereabouts of our CC. At that point, our boss, also in civies eased up quietly and introduced himself. Pulling the offended party away...he then informed the grumbling officer that A) this WAS a fighter bar...
B) there was a NICE bar in another section of the club
C) the ladies present were all the wives of the H@ll raising crud players...and they were all having a fine time without his interference
D) this was the ONE place we could blow off steam without getting in more serious trouble downtown
E) If he didn't like it he could get the *&* out.
Our boss then rolled back towards us, made eye contact, and said (fighter guys understand this..) "press!". For those who aren't familar with air combat lingo, that means 1) I see you 2) I see the threat and 3) you are cleared to engage and I will maintain the support fighter role. I had expected the standard "c'mon guys, that was fun but we need to chill" speech, but with one word he solidified himself as a great guy to follow.

2 great Flt CCs back to back. One would literally spend 10-15 minutes per week per dude, sitting and trying to visualize where that guy was with his home life, career, and flying progression. Then he'd work to optimize the schedule to best train and help his troops. Anyone who was in his flight leaped to the top of the heap. Two of my flight mates are now WIC IPs, and me, as mr "weak link", got to go to two more Eagle assignments. None of us would have had as many chances without such a superior Flt CC. The next guy had a different style, but was equally effective. He was the hardest working, most technically proficient guy I've seen at "managing" (yes...I said the M word) a flight training program to optimize available training. He was a great pilot and a "leader" as well...and I learned a ton from him. In what is probably my luckiest career turn both these flt CCs ended up as my ADOs in my next squadron when I got to be a FLT CC. I had to work very hard to try to keep the standards up as these 2 guys had set the bar so high for me to try to emulate.

Another leader, another continent. Our squadron is undermanned, overworked, and under-experienced. The sqdn has spent a lot of man hours and precious sorties getting me spun up as an IP. Kosovo is heating up (it got hot 2-3 times BEFORE NATO finally got involved in 99), and everyone is working long hours. On a stateside TDY, I discover that my dad's mysterious illness is terminal, but that he would likely last 3-5 more years. Anyone who knows the AF knows humanitarian reassignments are possible, but only when death is imminent in 12 months or less. When I mentioned I wanted to go back to the states sometime soon so my kids could be around their grandfather while he was still mobile and outwardly healthy, instead of worrying about going through channels and "qualifying" for a humanitarian deal, he simply said "family is the most important thing in life". There were no discussions about ops tempo, manning, or AF policies. He sent me to the wing CV to inform him of the situation--who then asked where I wanted to go on my next Eagle assignment. I had previously mentioned I'd go anywhere in the SE US to get closer to my dad, and if that meant flying trainers or whatever had to be done...fine. His comment was "that's nice...now don't let me hear you say "white jet" (trainers) again!" So...7 months later I'm at Tyndall, flying Eagles, and I'm home when my father takes a rapid turn for the worse. He died less than a year later, but the time my family got to spend with him will always be appreciated.

A superior CC/Ops O combo that collectively decides to let the squadron spirit...scared back back by tailhook, political correctness, and a fear of risk...reemerge. Our squadron bar is renovated, and the "social center" of the sqaudron is revitatalized. Some great parties, a weekly roll call, and an open door policy for other squadrons and our wives to join us (after the appointed hour) lead to some great cohesiveness and good times. Why did it work....the bosses allowed it to work, and took some chances along the way. They fought the MWR resistance to our "competition" to their Oclub, and allowed us to create our own little club.

So...14 years of great service, with some GREAT leaders along the way. There were bad points too, but I remember the good more than the not so happy times. One point on the stay/go thread that I think gets missed....I left AD on my terms, and with a smile on my face. So many guys have to leave bitter. I urge those on the fence to think ahead and see what they'll recall when they get out. If you afraid you'll lose the good and just burn out, then bail. The ANG is a great option! On the other hand, if are still having fun, and if your goal is to become one of the "good guys"...be the boss/supervisor you always wanted! The active duty needs good guys to carry us forward.

Fly safe and good luck.

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