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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2007

Questions seeking answers on a December Friday morning

By Chief Master Sgt. Troy Marvin 89th Aerial Support Group superintendent

Commanders, Chiefs, family members serving in our great Air Force, former co-workers, fellow running enthusiasts and Marvin Nation Members: 

As I prepare to PCS this month, I want to discuss my goals for 2008 and for the final three years of my 30-year USAF career. 

Holidays and PCS moves are great times to reflect on accomplishments and think about what will happen next ... thus, I wanted to throw out some food for thought. 

Questions for you to answer based on your personal and professional situation. Perhaps you pinned on a new rank this year, or received a line number, or maybe you weren't selected for promotion or even eligible this time around. Air Force careers are new to some, while others are closing out a chapter of their life and others are in the seven to 14 year group. Some are officers and some enlisted. Regardless of which demographic you fit into, there are three areas everyone needs to think about: 

1. Promotion: 

1. With only 24 more days in 2007, are you or your enlisted troops preparing for the upcoming Weighed-Airman Promotion System promotion cycle?
Are you motivated? Or, are you utilizing the "hope" method ... you know it - you've seen people use it: hoping the cut-off goes down to where you pick up, rather miraculously, a line number for the next grade. 

Are you studying diligently? Are you memorizing facts, analyzing concepts, putting yourself in those 'situational' questions that are sure to arise when the test proctor says "You may now turn the page and begin your test?" Or, are you hoping that a Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, or Air Force Achievement Medal will be submitted and approved for you to get the needed boost? 

Will you be happy in March, June or August 2008 or will next year's promotion release be a 'non-event' for you as October baseball is for Pittsburgh Pirates fans like me? When the line numbers and new stripes are given out that day, will you say, "That !@#$!@!@$!@#% Sergeant (choose a name) got my line number" or will you say, "Man, I'm glad I put in all that extra effort this year to get those necessary points?" 

Study! Now is the time to study - not three days before you test. 

If you aren't eligible this cycle, are you figuring out your game plan for the next cycle in which you are eligible? The time to start is now. 

2. Education: 

The Air Force takes education seriously - whether it's through the millions of dollars spent annually on tuition assistance or the fact we confer Associates Degrees on our people via the Community College of the Air Force. You should too. 

All of us are busy - with family commitments, deployments, intramural sports, etc., on top of our normal duty day requirements, but too often I find people winding down their careers and still working on their basic lower-level classes. Classes that should have been completed early on if the proper focus was there. 

Everyone should be working on expanding their intellectual focus. If you don't have your CCAF yet, sit down with the experts at the Education Services Office and find what you need to hit that milestone. If your CCAF degree is complete, then work on your Bachelor's degree. Once that is complete, start a Masters Degree or a professional certification in an area you are passionate. Don't become stagnant about continuing education. 

Leaders are readers. Eventually, whether at four, eight, 20, or 30 years, everyone will leave our great Air Force and statistics bear this out, nation-wide: those with higher levels of education generally get paid higher salaries than those without. 

3. Developing and Mentoring People 

Annual awards time is coming up. Packages are easy to write when greatness in all three areas -- duty performance, significant self-improvement, and community/base involvement -- is easy to describe. Whether you are writing about one person or a functional area, the cream always rises to the top (that's why it's easy to predict another Spurs world title in June 2008!) but, what are you doing to develop all of your people and to improve their performance in 2008? 

Are you communicating clearly established standards of performance and taking corrective action when those standards aren't met? Are you tolerating mediocrity, in either finished product or effort? I know recently I had the opportunity to correct a technical sergeant ... yes, a technical sergeant, for walking out of the West Fitness Center without her hat ... and her reply was "It's in the car." As if her parked car was located inside the WFC and walking outside to her car without her hat was OK since she knew it was in her car! Unreal! That wasn't acceptable to me and should not be acceptable to you. 

I know I said I'd only talk about three things but here's a few more tidbits to chew on when you think about taking care of your subordinates: 

Do they: 

(1) Know their chain of command - at least to Major Command Commander? 

(2) Understand the importance of Career Development Courses 

(3) Know the Airman's Creed - or do they suddenly become extremely interested in the floor while the creed is recited? 

(4) Enthusiastically support organizational events such as promotions, reenlistments and retirement ceremonies--or are we not teaching the importance of traditions to our Airmen? 

(5) Are we taking the Physical Training-challenged members of our organization aside for a little 1v1 workout to improve their run time, since it accounts for 50 percent of their PT score? 

As I PCS, I know it's time for me to step up my game three notches. I ask everyone to reflect on what I've said here, it's the only way this great Air Force will continue to meet its many challenges in 2008 and beyond. 

Thanks for your time and the personal and professional fellowship I've had with you.