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Commanders are dropping like flies this year


MDDieselPilot

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MCO mentioned towards the end of the linked post a desire to steer conservations back toward AF-type stuff.

As such, and on the topic of command, last year's O6 command board had ~40% of eligibles opt out from competing for command. Rumor is that the policy of "all in" will return. So for the crowd, which is worse for the AF: 

  • Selecting your group/wing commanders from a much smaller pool (nearly half as small) that results from letting people opt out from competing
  • Or, forcing Colonels to compete and, if selected, take command unless they retire under the policy of "all in"?

I think there can be a middle ground. If I were CSAF, I would want as big a pool of candidates as possible, but knowing that there is an O6 shortage, especially among rated officers, I would institute a policy to allow commander-selects to decline as long as there was a mutually beneficial assignment besides command to keep from bleeding talent.

Thoughts?

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15 minutes ago, Muscle2002 said:

MCO mentioned towards the end of the linked post a desire to steer conservations back toward AF-type stuff.

As such, and on the topic of command, last year's O6 command board had ~40% of eligibles opt out from competing for command. Rumor is that the policy of "all in" will return. So for the crowd, which is worse for the AF: 

  • Selecting your group/wing commanders from a much smaller pool (nearly half as small) that results from letting people opt out from competing
  • Or, forcing Colonels to compete and, if selected, take command unless they retire under the policy of "all in"?

I think there can be a middle ground. If I were CSAF, I would want as big a pool of candidates as possible, but knowing that there is an O6 shortage, especially among rated officers, I would institute a policy to allow commander-selects to decline as long as there was a mutually beneficial assignment besides command to keep from bleeding talent.

Thoughts?

Address the reasons why few want to command?

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2 hours ago, Muscle2002 said:

MCO mentioned towards the end of the linked post a desire to steer conservations back toward AF-type stuff.

As such, and on the topic of command, last year's O6 command board had ~40% of eligibles opt out from competing for command. Rumor is that the policy of "all in" will return. So for the crowd, which is worse for the AF: 

  • Selecting your group/wing commanders from a much smaller pool (nearly half as small) that results from letting people opt out from competing
  • Or, forcing Colonels to compete and, if selected, take command unless they retire under the policy of "all in"?

I think there can be a middle ground. If I were CSAF, I would want as big a pool of candidates as possible, but knowing that there is an O6 shortage, especially among rated officers, I would institute a policy to allow commander-selects to decline as long as there was a mutually beneficial assignment besides command to keep from bleeding talent.

Thoughts?

Good question and not the easiest problem to solve.

Disclaimer:  I declined command with prejudice two years ago so this a is topic that I have fairly strong feelings about.

  Second hand info, so take it FWIW, but I've been told that our MAJCOM/CC has stated that AF leadership is fairly concerned about this.  Long term projections/trends aren't good; supposedly there's a real possibility that there won't be enough qualified O-5/6s in the coming years to fill all the required command billets.

  At any given point AFSOC has about 110 or so O-6s; about 3 years ago there was an O-6 blood bath where 42 of them punched in the same year, was a rude wakeup call.  From what I can tell there's another big wave of O-6 retirements currently under way.  I honestly don't know why AFSOC was surprised this happened, we're coming into the era where you have people who've been at war for their entire career.  Once you make O-6 you're a company man and your control over your future is often times much diminished, and in the last couple years your chances of an undesirable 365 increased dramatically (admittedly this risk is probably diminished now).   

  I'd agree with your pitch that there is and probably needs to be a middle ground.  I personally know several guys in the last two years who made O-6 and still retired prior to getting 3 years TIG.  If the AF tries to push guys/gals into commands they don't want, I'm of the personal opinion it'll be a lose/lose for everyone involved.  The people in question will most likely just retire so we'll lose the talent, or they'll stay and do a job they don't want, which means they people they're leading could suffer.

  In my small corner of the AF:

1. I think we could do a better job about being open with guys/gals about what their future looks like if they're on the command track.  AFSOC does a horrible job IMO giving guys on the command track feedback on the DT results/discussions.  Almost everyone is in the dark until if/when they get a hiring phone call.  That makes it very difficult to prog out family life or have any idea about what your future holds. 

2. I think we could also open up DO and CC slots to more non-school selects/line guys (not just top 10-15% people).  I know plenty of bros in the ops units that would've made great commanders and would've been interested in serving in that role but never got the looks or opportunity cause they weren't put on that path as a Captain.  This would serve to widen the command gene pool and not limit senior leaders' choices for command billets to careerist twats.   One of the better CCs I've had was one of these guys, always a line dude, no school or jt staff and was a great commander during a challenging year for the squadron.

3.  I believe keeping productive O-6s that decline command would be win for the AF and for those individuals.  I worked with/around a decent amount of worthless/not smart/downright cockbaggish O-6s during my time on staff.  Every guy on here has probably seen things come out of at least the MAJCOM that were uninformed/bad policy/caused issued at the ops units.  Letting good O-6s go to staff lets those guys/gals continue to serve and leverages their experience where it could have positive effects at the squadron level. 

Standing by spears/thoughts.   

Edited by DirkDiggler
Grammar
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Maybe it’s because having command in the USAF involves very little actual leadership and rather is more management of bureaucratic norms to not upset the status quo.

I know people turning down management opportunities because there are better things to to do in life than be king turd of sh-t island.

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I don’t know if they are really thinking about turning opt out off but there is concerns for some career fields. Id also say I don’t think our O-6 manning is that bad, minus certain AFSCs. That can change pretty quick though. I do think leadership would love to fully understand the reasoning behind opt outs.

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12 hours ago, MCO said:

I don’t know if they are really thinking about turning opt out off but there is concerns for some career fields. Id also say I don’t think our O-6 manning is that bad, minus certain AFSCs. That can change pretty quick though. I do think leadership would love to fully understand the reasoning behind opt outs.

  I know for a fact that it's a problem in AFSOC, can't speak to other commands so maybe it's better other places.  I've heard second and third hand that it's becoming a problem in other commands but I have no evidence of that.

  To your point on leadership "understanding" opt outs, that's probably a pretty tough thing to make happen with any regularity unless attitudes about leadership and what it means to serve change in the AF.  O-6 assignments are handled in a separate system from the rest of the rank and file.  Believe it or not, a lot of O-6s that are thinking about getting out don't show their cards until they have to, just like the guys on line.  I would imagine that telling a guy like Slife or his most probable successor (CAT 5) that you're opting out of command but want to continue serving isn't going to go very well.  Guys like that have serious difficulty processing that someone wouldn't want a command opportunity; the risk of vindictiveness through a shitty deal or assignment is simply too high for a lot of O-6s to be long term honest brokers about their goals/intentions.  

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12 hours ago, DirkDiggler said:

  I know for a fact that it's a problem in AFSOC, can't speak to other commands so maybe it's better other places.  I've heard second and third hand that it's becoming a problem in other commands but I have no evidence of that.

  To your point on leadership "understanding" opt outs, that's probably a pretty tough thing to make happen with any regularity unless attitudes about leadership and what it means to serve change in the AF.  O-6 assignments are handled in a separate system from the rest of the rank and file.  Believe it or not, a lot of O-6s that are thinking about getting out don't show their cards until they have to, just like the guys on line.  I would imagine that telling a guy like Slife or his most probable successor (CAT 5) that you're opting out of command but want to continue serving isn't going to go very well.  Guys like that have serious difficulty processing that someone wouldn't want a command opportunity; the risk of vindictiveness through a shitty deal or assignment is simply too high for a lot of O-6s to be long term honest brokers about their goals/intentions.  

I'm fairly aware of the O-6 assignments process. You can opt out of command right now and just go into the normal O-6 assignments process and for the most part it doesn't hurt you, except that some jobs want graduated commanders. But assignments at the O-6 level are all BNR so it can get weird, but you are not just looked at by 1 MAJCOM for jobs. There are even tracks at the O-6 level to take where you don't even meet the CSB and it isn't held against you except on the BG board when that box isn't checked. I don't think overall manning at the O-6 level is bad right now, but like I said is bad for specific AFSCs. For instance there was continuation offered last year, but not this year. Pretty sure COVID had a say and things can change pretty quick, but for a year or two that's where its at. 

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On 11/21/2021 at 4:17 AM, di1630 said:

Maybe it’s because having command in the USAF involves very little actual leadership and rather is more management of bureaucratic norms to not upset the status quo.

I know people turning down management opportunities because there are better things to to do in life than be king turd of sh-t island.

Are you speaking from experience? 

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This talk about about O6s made me think of this. I've been a .gov contractor for 21 years. The biggest douchebags I've ever had to work with by far were retired O6s. Not saying all of them were because there were some good dudes, some of them I flew with. The douches thought they should get some recognition because of their retired rank, nope, not from me and most others felt the same. You earn respect now. Working shoulder to shoulder with one particular guy that thought he was in charge, nope, let him know real quick. Where does this expectation come from? The best leaders/managers in my years of experience have been retired SNCOs

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1 hour ago, arg said:

This talk about about O6s made me think of this. I've been a .gov contractor for 21 years. The biggest douchebags I've ever had to work with by far were retired O6s. Not saying all of them were because there were some good dudes, some of them I flew with. The douches thought they should get some recognition because of their retired rank, nope, not from me and most others felt the same. You earn respect now. Working shoulder to shoulder with one particular guy that thought he was in charge, nope, let him know real quick. Where does this expectation come from? The best leaders/managers in my years of experience have been retired SNCOs

Meh, I've seen this go both ways.  Some O-6s get out, get a GS-15 or contractor job, and are just happy to continue to serve/contribute (several great retired O-6s working as J model instructors here at ABQ).  Others engage in the douchebaggery you described above.  FWIW, I've personally witnessed similar behavior from retired E-8/9s.  Some get out, get a GS-12-14 or contractor job, and are happy to serve/contribute (since you've been at CVS for a long time I'm assuming you know/knew Rich Lewis when he was out there, phenomenal dude).  Others act like they still wear their stripes and treat junior enlisted/young officers like shit.  There's always O-6s and E-9s that think they're god's gift to the AF, they're never wrong, and that those below them are somehow lesser beings that need to show subservience.  Then there's O-6s and Chiefs that work hard to get the mission done, truly care about their people, and want to make things better in their respective corner. 

BLUF is that if someone was an ineffective twat on AD, the same behavior generally follows them into their post AF career.

Edited by DirkDiggler
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This talk about about O6s made me think of this. I've been a .gov contractor for 21 years. The biggest douchebags I've ever had to work with by far were retired O6s. Not saying all of them were because there were some good dudes, some of them I flew with. The douches thought they should get some recognition because of their retired rank, nope, not from me and most others felt the same. You earn respect now. Working shoulder to shoulder with one particular guy that thought he was in charge, nope, let him know real quick. Where does this expectation come from? The best leaders/managers in my years of experience have been retired SNCOs

You obviously don’t work with any E9’s or retired E9’s. Very rare to find a chief.
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1 hour ago, DirkDiggler said:

Meh, I've seen this go both ways.  Some O-6s get out, get a GS-15 or contractor job, and are just happy to continue to serve/contribute (several great retired O-6s working as J model instructors here at ABQ).  Others engage in the douchebaggery you described above.  FWIW, I've personally witnessed similar behavior from retired E-8/9s.  Some get out, get a GS-12-14 or contractor job, and are happy to serve/contribute (since you've been at CVS for a long time I'm assuming you know/knew Rich Lewis when he was out there, phenomenal dude).  Others act like they still wear their stripes and treat junior enlisted/young officers like shit.  There's always O-6s and E-9s that think they're god's gift to the AF, they're never wrong, and that those below them are somehow lesser beings that need to show subservience.  Then there's O-6s and Chiefs that work hard to get the mission done, truly care about their people, and want to make things better in their respective corner. 

BLUF is that if someone was an ineffective twat on AD, the same behavior generally follows them into their post AF career.

You are correct, I focused on 06s because that's what the discussion was about. I did mention some of them are good dudes. Same with retired E8/9s, some continue to think their clothes should be ironed for them. Some, like Rich, contribute to the mission. I've drank many beers with Rich, many war stories were shared and a good time was had.  Wait until you meet Rich's replacement, E9 all the way. 

57 minutes ago, Guardian said:


You obviously don’t work with any E9’s or retired E9’s. Very rare to find a chief.

See above. I think I've mentioned this before but back in the day you could call an E9 Sergeant. We would call a Chief that deserved it a Chief but call an E9 Sergeant, some knew why. One retired E9 shoe clerk was belittling aircrew instructors and was promptly reminded who the "rock stars" were. A retired O6 site manager did that. I got to admit I felt kind of proud about that.

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3 hours ago, arg said:

This talk about about O6s made me think of this. I've been a .gov contractor for 21 years. The biggest douchebags I've ever had to work with by far were retired O6s. Not saying all of them were because there were some good dudes, some of them I flew with. The douches thought they should get some recognition because of their retired rank, nope, not from me and most others felt the same. You earn respect now. Working shoulder to shoulder with one particular guy that thought he was in charge, nope, let him know real quick. Where does this expectation come from? The best leaders/managers in my years of experience have been retired SNCOs

I got demoted to E-5 from E-7 (KC-135 Boom) and my counterpart at work is a retired O-6 (KC-135/C-5 Pilot) . Our boss is a retired E-8 (C-5 FE). We all work great together. Thankfully, from what I've seen with retired O-6/E-9s who are douches eat some humble pie when they realize no one has to listen, or put up, with their bullshit post-military. 

YMMV

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10 hours ago, Sua Sponte said:

I got demoted to E-5 from E-7 (KC-135 Boom) and my counterpart at work is a retired O-6 (KC-135/C-5 Pilot) . Our boss is a retired E-8 (C-5 FE). We all work great together. Thankfully, from what I've seen with retired O-6/E-9s who are douches eat some humble pie when they realize no one has to listen, or put up, with their bullshit post-military. 

YMMV

There's a retired O-6 instructor at my current location who was in an O-6 leadership position when I was a captain.  I kept called him sir or Col XX the first couple events we had scheduled (just felt normal).  He finally laughed the next time I did it and said "hey, its just --insert first name-- now).  Super down to earth and a really good instructor pilot.

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I tried to resist posting while drinking but was unable. To be severe clear most of the retired O6s I've worked with are awesome dudes, same with retired SNCOs. Didn't mean that most retired O6s were douches just most douches I've had to work with were. YMMV. Going back to the LM days the best site manager we ever had at Hurbie was a retired O6 Talon driver. The best at CVS was a retired E7 FE. 

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4 hours ago, arg said:

I tried to resist posting while drinking but was unable. To be severe clear most of the retired O6s I've worked with are awesome dudes, same with retired SNCOs. Didn't mean that most retired O6s were douches just most douches I've had to work with were. YMMV. Going back to the LM days the best site manager we ever had at Hurbie was a retired O6 Talon driver. The best at CVS was a retired E7 FE. 

I was offended....LOL.  I knew what you were saying brother.

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On 11/21/2021 at 9:49 AM, DirkDiggler said:

  I know for a fact that it's a problem in AFSOC, can't speak to other commands so maybe it's better other places.  I've heard second and third hand that it's becoming a problem in other commands but I have no evidence of that.

  To your point on leadership "understanding" opt outs, that's probably a pretty tough thing to make happen with any regularity unless attitudes about leadership and what it means to serve change in the AF.  O-6 assignments are handled in a separate system from the rest of the rank and file.  Believe it or not, a lot of O-6s that are thinking about getting out don't show their cards until they have to, just like the guys on line.  I would imagine that telling a guy like Slife or his most probable successor (CAT 5) that you're opting out of command but want to continue serving isn't going to go very well.  Guys like that have serious difficulty processing that someone wouldn't want a command opportunity; the risk of vindictiveness through a shitty deal or assignment is simply too high for a lot of O-6s to be long term honest brokers about their goals/intentions.  

The situation at AFSOC is horrible but NO ONE CARES.  The system encourages what has happened and the internal AFSOC politics made it even worse.   There was a big purge of AFSOC O-6s a few years ago but nothing really came of it other than some very talented people ran for the door.  You would think Big Blue leadership would pay attention when the sitting Group Commanders of your two premier AFSOC Wings bail at the same time.  Both were on the Wing/CC list and they said nope...adios.  Wait until the CAT 5 hits AFSOC....the current guy is horrible, so convinced he is right he do anything to preserve his legacy including getting rid of all the AC-130's...sadly this is not a joke.  The incoming dude is pure hate, a vindictive cult of personality who will salt the earth behind him.  Both have lined up their DOJ's (inside joke), and puppets who will continue to do their bidding to perpetuate the evil.  I still talk to many folks on the inside and there is one overriding theme from all of them...dark dread.  It will take AFSOC a generation to overcome, if it ever does.

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2 hours ago, skibum said:

AFSOC's been f'd for a lot longer than that. I think we have short memories...

Agreed.

CH, what would you think about AFSOC reorganizing wings into similar type missions?  Strike wing, mobility wing, ISR, etc.  I’m curious if that would help AFSOC focus more; it seems a lack of focused O6 attention results in a lack of GO focused attention, which allows problems to fester.  Although we would need increased cross flows to prevent tribalism, but in general I think more cross flow is a good thing.
 

 

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14 hours ago, tac airlifter said:

Agreed.

CH, what would you think about AFSOC reorganizing wings into similar type missions?  Strike wing, mobility wing, ISR, etc.  I’m curious if that would help AFSOC focus more; it seems a lack of focused O6 attention results in a lack of GO focused attention, which allows problems to fester.  Although we would need increased cross flows to prevent tribalism, but in general I think more cross flow is a good thing.

It has nothing to do with focused attention on each platform, and sadly crossflow won't stop the tribalism.  The issue is and has been the Pavelow Mafia and what they have done through the years.  I am skimming the surface on their TTPs but in short they executed what Big Blue tried to do on the GO development side.  They picked key talent VERY early and made them the "chosen ones".  They stratified a few thoroughbreds in each year group, and pushed them forward no matter what.  Dudes actually knew what there "number" was in their entire year group and once they were "made" the senior folks carefully managed the chosen ones to make sure they were BPZ at multiple ranks, in the right job, at the right school and in the right position to continue the program.  For many years AFSOC had only one wing and the Commander was almost always a Pavelow guy.  The Gunships, Talons and Shadows were relegated to second tier jobs.  A few MC guys leaked through once in a while, but the Pavelow guys always made it back into the rotation.  Any time a gunship bro would excel the mafia made sure they didn't get command at Hurlburt...the only wing with gunships.  Fiel and Hiethold popped as GOs but both had to be Wing/CCs elsewhere.  I think the first gunship dude to make BG as the Hurlburt Wing/CC was Westy and they made sure he retired as a one star.

Honestly I blame Fiel and Hiethold.  Fiel enabled the current sycophant and his CAT 5 successor to survive and enabled their caustic ways.  CAT 5 did a lot of F'd up things and Fiel could have ended him, but he was persuaded the dude could be "fixed" and he let him continue.  Rather than fall on his sword and take the case to CSAF, Hiethold took the easy route and pushed them both away to Korea, where they put their rings together and survived to rise from the ashes.  A Pavelow followed Hiethold in the AFSOC/CC chair and the deal was done.  A complete travesty...Elton should have been the pick and he would have done wonders for the entire enterprise.

I don't think most know how bad it really is.  The AFOSC/CC does not like AC-130 types, he thinks they are stone cold killers that need mental health help, something he has openly been heard saying in the halls of the command.  He actually ordered a reflection event for the gunship community, not because of the woke nonsense, but because he thinks the gunship community kills too many people to easily.  It is absolutely shocking some of the things this clown has said to other senior officers.  He has even gone as far as to offer to give up all the AC-130's in the command to enable his other pet projects.  And let there be no doubt, the lunatic coming in behind him will continue the destruction.

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22 hours ago, ClearedHot said:

The situation at AFSOC is horrible but NO ONE CARES.  The system encourages what has happened and the internal AFSOC politics made it even worse.   There was a big purge of AFSOC O-6s a few years ago but nothing really came of it other than some very talented people ran for the door.  You would think Big Blue leadership would pay attention when the sitting Group Commanders of your two premier AFSOC Wings bail at the same time.  Both were on the Wing/CC list and they said nope...adios.  Wait until the CAT 5 hits AFSOC....the current guy is horrible, so convinced he is right he do anything to preserve his legacy including getting rid of all the AC-130's...sadly this is not a joke.  The incoming dude is pure hate, a vindictive cult of personality who will salt the earth behind him.  Both have lined up their DOJ's (inside joke), and puppets who will continue to do their bidding to perpetuate the evil.  I still talk to many folks on the inside and there is one overriding theme from all of them...dark dread.  It will take AFSOC a generation to overcome, if it ever does.

Sorry, who is CAT 5?

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On 11/25/2021 at 8:25 AM, ClearedHot said:

The situation at AFSOC is horrible but NO ONE CARES.  The system encourages what has happened and the internal AFSOC politics made it even worse.   There was a big purge of AFSOC O-6s a few years ago but nothing really came of it other than some very talented people ran for the door.  You would think Big Blue leadership would pay attention when the sitting Group Commanders of your two premier AFSOC Wings bail at the same time.  Both were on the Wing/CC list and they said nope...adios.  Wait until the CAT 5 hits AFSOC....the current guy is horrible, so convinced he is right he do anything to preserve his legacy including getting rid of all the AC-130's...sadly this is not a joke.  The incoming dude is pure hate, a vindictive cult of personality who will salt the earth behind him.  Both have lined up their DOJ's (inside joke), and puppets who will continue to do their bidding to perpetuate the evil.  I still talk to many folks on the inside and there is one overriding theme from all of them...dark dread.  It will take AFSOC a generation to overcome, if it ever does.

Morale took a big hit when the current big boss handpicked every sq cc in AFSOC based on personal loyalty.  This has resulted in leadership that prioritizes falling inline and not biting the hand that feeds instead of advocating for their squadrons.

I dont see it getting better anytime soon. 

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