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NCO Business

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. John Gallo
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Operations Group
On the March 25th, the men and women of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing had the privilege of hosting Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. That evening, Gen. Grass addressed a theater packed with Marauders and our guests. The rows were filled with guardsmen, reservists and active duty members from nearly every branch of service, a true show of Total Force. As Gen. Grass progressed through his presentation, his message of servant leadership rang loud and clear.

At about the midpoint of his briefing, he introduced his Senior Enlisted Advisor, Command Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell Brush. After the brief introduction, Chief Brush shared with the group his insight pertaining to the ongoing challenge our services face in preventing sexual assault and suicide. The chief spoke very candidly about the hard work we've put in to combat these issues but he also acknowledged we are not where we need to be. "This is NCO business," stated Chief Brush, and I couldn't agree with him more.

That evening, Chief Brush's words grabbed our attention. I'm sure his message was absorbed a little differently by each service member. From where I was sitting, his statement that this is "NCO business" reaches much further than combating sexual assault and suicide prevention. Our business as Junior and Senior NCOs is clearly defined in AFI 36-2618. We know this AFI. Enlisted Force Structure provides concrete guidance and clearly defines our roles and responsibilities as NCOs and SNCOs. To me, Chief Brush's message went beyond what is written in AFIs, pamphlets or books on leadership. He called us to action, compelling NCOs and Senior NCOs to aggressively fulfill our personal responsibility to know those that work for us on a personal level and to exercise moral maturity and character in developing and leading these Airmen.

We've all heard some version of the saying, "Take care of your people and the mission will take care of itself." Upon hearing this, many might be tempted to say "Everybody knows that. Isn't that just common sense?" Common sense, probably. Commonly implemented? Unfortunately, no. In my opinion, taking care of NCO business directly correlates to positively influencing the hearts and minds of your subordinates to improve their readiness, effectiveness, and capability while also enhancing their potential. I'd venture to say that nearly anyone can manage people from the neck down. Our Airmen are intelligent and highly capable. They can be motivated to accomplish seemingly insurmountable tasks with their hands, feet and backs. The challenge for any leader is to develop the ability to influence their personnel from the neck up, ultimately capturing their loyalty, creativity and commitment.

It stands without question that the Air Force's greatest asset is the Airmen that proudly serve in its ranks. Winning over our Airmen from the neck up requires leaders that demand people treat others as they desire to be treated. They foster an environment of dignity and respect within an organization and cultivate a climate where honesty, reliability and gratitude are the norm. Effectively handling NCO business is not just something you do; it defines who we are as Junior and Senior NCOs. It defines your reputation, your ability to influence others for good and rouse Airmen to action, inspiring them to the highest levels of performance. The result will be Airmen taking personal responsibility in the organization and its mission, for its success and failures. "This is my process, my flight, my squadron, this is my responsibility -- I own it."