Growing our replacements

  • Published
  • By Col. Toby D. Hammer
  • 934th Airlift Wing Inspector General
Spring is here and many begin to think of the planting and growing season. Those thoughts may be on growing green grass or on planting and growing vegetable or flower gardens. It may even be the thoughts of the farmers and their planting of crops or the landscapers planting and growing trees and bushes. The legacy for all these growers will be based on the results they will see in the autumn of this year. My thoughts find me also thinking about growing and legacy. These thoughts, however, are on growing our replacements and how the legacy of that effort will be seen in five to ten years from now, well after I am no longer an active member here at the 934th Airlift Wing. This article is a reflection on our responsibility to nurture and equip our replacements. 

During the last two and a half years, I have had the fortunate honor of welcoming the Newcomers to our wing on Saturday mornings and introducing them to my role as the installation IG. I have closed these briefings with the same message that I told newcomers to the maintenance squadron when I was a commander. That message has been and is today that our newcomers are now the most important people in our wing, it is not the commanders, it is not our chiefs, it is not our first sergeants, it is not our field grade officers, it is not our Top Three enlisted, and it is certainly not me. The most important people on our wing are the newcomers; they are the future of this wing. 

If this article sounds like it is heading towards the topic of mentoring, you are very perceptive. While we do have a formal mentoring program that is outlined in Air Force Instructions and includes feedback and performance reviews, it does not completely answer the needs of growing our Airmen. I encourage all top-three enlisted and field grade officers to look, listen, and respond to needs of to our young Airmen of both the enlisted and officer ranks by committing yourselves to serve our future wing's leaders as a mentor. 

This request is a follow-up to Col. Brandes' Viking Flyer article that suggested that an individual do all he or she can to continue their personal and professional development. My request is for all of us to step to help this professional development process. Choose to be a mentor, a sponsor for newcomers, a big buddy, a concerned comrade, a wingman, or if you want to call it by what it is, a servant leader. In order to assist in this mentoring effort, the 934th Human Resources Development Council is coordinating two opportunities for continued development; a two-day enlisted workshop and quarterly company grade officer workshops. 

The enlisted workshop will be a two-day workshop for interested enlisted Airmen that is currently planned to occur in November. This workshop is developing into an intense career developing seminar that will have a host of speakers and a wide range of topics. 

It will be professionally interactive as well as socially interactive. This workshop is being organized by enlisted Airmen for enlisted Airmen with support and interaction opportunities with senior leaders of a wide diversity. Brochures and announcements of the details will available in the upcoming months.
The first Company Grade Officer Quarterly workshop was held during the March UTA and was received with great success.
s included an ice breaker, leadership basics, wing organization structure, and TDY 101. Our wing's Deputy Group Commanders have dedicated themselves to the continued development of this opportunity for Company Grade Officers and will be open to suggestions for its direction. Look for the next CGO Workshop to be held during this summer. In the meantime, I will be encouraging the Deputy Commanders to consider a November workshop that includes a Fit to Fight presentation as well as an opportunity for me to referee a Dodge Ball competition. As a saying on my office wall states, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." 

I just completed 20 years here at the 934th Airlift Wing. I am thankful for the many blessings of the Airmen who mentored me over these years. These mentors, who took me under their wing, were both officers and enlisted. In their honor, I will continue to offer encouragement, support, guidance, and a deep respect for those who are willing to take on the charge of making this a better wing by investing their time in growing our replacements. Thank you and God Bless.