50 shades of blue

The world is made of a vibrant array and various shades of colors. All can be sorted in some major groups. (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white and black)

The color that primarily dominates my life is blue. It’s ultramarine blue and its composed of 36.5% red, 54.1% green and 65.9% blue. Whereas in a CMYK color space, it is composed of 44.6% cyan, 17.9% magenta, 0% yellow and 34.1% black. It has a hue angle of 204 degrees, a saturation of 30.1% and a lightness of 51.2% to be technical. This particular shade of blue belongs to the worlds greatest air force; The United States Air Force.

The USAF writes AFI’s (air force instructions) on how to operate business on a daily basis. It protects themselves and the individuals they employ. It tells us how to dress for various occasions, and clearly states the rules if an individual gets into trouble via the UCMJ (uniformed code of military justice). It is sorta of loosely written to allow commanders to add job/location specific instructions. There are also training classes for various ranks about leadership. It’s smart. It keeps are mission flowing smoothly.

Their leadership training is broken up to accommodate the different ranks. Airman Leadership School (ALS) is for Senior Airman (E-4) that made Staff Sergeant (E-5). There are other courses for airmen as they make rank and continue to progress in their careers. Professional military education (PME) is what creates better leaders and sharper minds focused on accomplishing the mission.

I recently attended ALS. There really was no point for me to be there. I didn’t make Staff sergeant and I got my Korea orders cancelled. Technically, they can still force me to go because I have been enlisted in the Air Force for 48+ months. Since I had to be there, I figured that I attempt to learn something and enjoy being in a warm building instead of freezing on the flight line.

It was after the first week that I realized this class is not effective with time management. I show up 15 minutes before the report time. Class didn’t usually start until almost an hour after the time we were told to report. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s weren’t so bad because we had reveille in the morning before class. However, those two days were usually our longest because we had retreat in the afternoon, followed by mandatory flight physical training sessions.

It was the second week when I realized that this class is designed to help out the people that are not natural-born leaders and the concepts in class are not designed for highly intelligent individuals.

I’m almost finished with the class. I have four days left of class. I can’t wait to throw on my coveralls and get dirty again. Some of the lessons were simply silly and a waste of time. I really feel like successful learning (which isn’t testable material, it is designed to give you tips to learn better while in ALS) and critical thinking are the two classes that should get dropped from the curriculum. Well, critical thinking should probably stay in in the class.

The introduction to negotiating class and the IDDP process (Identify, Differentiate, Determine, Predict) was probably the most frustrating. I am a very logical, and rational thinker. I already am capable of thought and figuring out a appropriate solution. These lessons attempted to break it down so the dumbest person you ever met could attempt to think like the smartest person you ever met. Yea, I had to sit through that bullshit, then get tested over it, fucking twice.

Did I forget to mention that you have to test twice? You take a formative exam. This exam has no bearing on graduation. It’s a freebie if you fail. Well I passed it. Then you take a summative exam. Failing that is bad juju. I passed that too. I think it a waste of time to make me sit and bear the anxiety of taking an exam, just to have it not count for anything. Oh, and the summative is much harder than the formative. They make you test over drill too. You have to test twice over this material too. That was the easiest and most relaxing part of ALS. I did honor guard for a long time. Drill is second nature to me.

Throughout the class, I could tell which individual are going to make well-rounded and phenomenal supervisors. I can also tell which ones that will be decent but clearly lack common sense. These ones want direct answers and need subordinates they can fit neatly in boxes. If only all people were one-method-fits-all.

During the class, various scenarios were thrown at us as a way to apply what we learned in a safe environment. It astounds me how quick some of my classmates were to ruin the scenario airman’s career. I just didn’t feel that starting a paper trail was warranted in those scenarios. It also astounds me on the lack of critical thinkers. Meh, it’s not for everyone.

After sitting in this class for almost six weeks, the only thing I learned is how to pick out different personalities/adapt my communication for them and how to write some of the paperwork I will be expected to complete as a supervisor. I will never be the supervisor that the maintenance career wants. (They want a yes-man and a scapegoat at all times.)

I don’t think that the world is black and white. I think it is mostly gray area because we all have different opinions on how that world should operate. I think this is applicable to the Air Force as well. ALS teaches you to be blue but they show you various shades of blue so that you can reach out the the different types of individuals. I can drink this kool-aid. This makes sense and I think that this is direction the Air Force is wanting to take with the new batch of NCO’s. A change in culture is a good thing in this instance.

The problem is that maintenance doesn’t care. The higher leadership is from a different culture. This culture is pretty much eradicated in the other AFSC’s work places. Maintenance is capable of functioning with a open mind , but deliberately chooses to ignore their people and changes. Nothing changes without the majority, and that majority has to be riddled with stripes, and a lot of them. Maintenance is either blue or you’re out.

There is so much changing, and I’m curious to see what becomes of it. However, I want to watch from the outside.


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