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Didn't know there was so much of a difference between rated & non-rated officers; are non-rated officers actually this clueless?


Vice

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I'm a Prior-E officer that went rated, and had a rather unfortunate series of encounters with non-rated officers over the last few years. It seems like they just don't "get it" and seem to forget that they are in the military. Completely clueless as to what aircraft are at their base and what they even do. Have difficulty picking up on the subtle clues that aircrew members are fluent in. Freaking out at the mention of the 6-9 weeks that are required for me to fully detox in my safe space from my encounter with them because they made me feel so unsafe.

My time at SOS was quite educational in this regard.

wat do

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Always got a chuckle hearing my wife’s stories from working in the Travis hospital. The majority of people there believed Travis existed because of the hospital, and many of the officers she talked to thought that the planes on the flightline weren’t stationed there but just passing through for fuel or onload/offload…like an airport.

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At the tactical level it seems that way and for purpose. I mean if you think about it for a minute, as a CGO your entire purpose is to be singularly guided by your organizations mission and to drive your team to the accomplishment of that mission at any costs and without any regard to the bigger picture. It's very much a mindset adopted from the Army.

With rated careers we get the advantage that we are at the tip of the spear and so our mission is often in co-alignment with operational level objectives at the theater level. Makes it very easy for us to see the big picture. However, in theory, that spear doesn't drive itself, but the force comes from the heft at the rear that pushes it, or; all of your support agencies. 

When you get to the strategic and even the operational level Air Force or joint organization staff, all of that haze tends to disappear for everyone. The support agencies get a better picture of how important it is to ensure crews and aircraft get off the runway and fly toward an objective. Their action officers WILL bend over backwards to make that happen. Meanwhile, from an ops standpoint, we typically get educated on the enormous backend that is super important to sustaining a military but we just never see how it connects. Logistics supply chain, casualty management, force health, engineering, etc.... Much of the support force as it exist in peace time isn't necessarily relevant in current purpose but is there as posturing decision and a way to elicit a feedback loop from lower echelons.

It's a bit hokey but at the base level the customer service front of these agencies is a poor reflection of their importance, largely because their actual neccesity isn't really practiced except in war or major exercises. I would like to say your poor customer service is because they spend most of their time actually focused on what that war time mission is but I don't think that's really the case. Rather, both pieces tend to naturally deter from one another. The customer service front gives them the familiarity with the systems and processes that are neccessary to them but short actual conflict they aren't actually managing them in a meaningful manner that generates war power. 

The last piece to all this, is at the HAF and DoD level, people aren't really concerned with an individual or their outcomes. So your poor experience at finance isn't really that important to anyone. Rather, they are more focused on the overall performance of the machine as it runs. In other words, "if finance gets it right 95% of the time, we are doing well. For the 5% who's pay for fucked, well sorry that happened to you but the force at large is still very capable of combat and that's my bigger concern."

All of this resonates as truths you hear throughout your whole career. "Noone cares about your career more than you." Etc.... The further you get from yourself and your immediate supervisor, the more that magnifies. You're a number, with no individual importance or value, other than hitting the baseline expectation of your role. It's why if you're a talented officer or aviator, you absolutely should get out when you get the chance. Because your value will be better recognized and appreciated elsewhere. 

 

Edited by FLEA
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Point of order: Airline compensation isn't merit-based either. I could also add that merit is a specious as hell quantity in our jacked-up, regulatory captured, crony-capital so-called economy, but I'll digress on that sub-topic.

--brk brk--

Now back to our regular sport kvetching about AF nonners not knowing their place in the hierarchy.😄 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Vice said:

I'm a Prior-E officer that went rated, and had a rather unfortunate series of encounters with non-rated officers over the last few years. It seems like they just don't "get it" and seem to forget that they are in the military. Completely clueless as to what aircraft are at their base and what they even do. Have difficulty picking up on the subtle clues that aircrew members are fluent in.

 

3 hours ago, FLEA said:

 It's why if you're a talented officer or aviator, you absolutely should get out when you get the chance. Because your value will be better recognized and appreciated elsewhere. 

At least part of the dynamic you encounter is directly related to @FLEA's post above.  Anecdotally at least, I felt like the pool of non-rated officers started off along a standard bell curve when it came to skills, situational awareness, motivation, intelligence, etc.  Maybe a bit biased towards the geeky, anti-social side......

After the initial commitment (four years for ROTC/OTS, five for Academy), you lose a lot of talent at the upper portion of that bell curve. The good folks get tired of all the normal stuff (bureaucracy, asshattery, etc), and decide to punch.  A lot of those folks who stay in are at that left end of the bell curve.

Ebbs and flows along with the economy, too.  Got a good economy going?  You're gonna lose a lot of your good people.  Good people are more likely to punch when the economy is good.  A non-rated O who retires today is someone who took a look at the roaring economy of 2006/2007 and said "You know what, I'm going to stay in."  You get a small number of hard-charging true believers, and a lot of shitheads.

Somewhat related, a lot of the health professionals don't even attend full OTS, rather they do an abbreviated version.  I think the criteria to pass is ability to put on the uniform correctly 3 out of 4 times.

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4 hours ago, Blue said:

...

Somewhat related, a lot of the health professionals don't even attend full OTS, rather they do an abbreviated version.  I think the criteria to pass is ability to put on the uniform correctly 3 out of 4 times.

LOL, COT.  The best part is that they get to wear their rank on the second or third day IIRC.  I remember walking into the latrine and seeing this older guy struggle to get his canteen to go back into the pouch on his web belt.  The problem was of course that he had the belt on upside down and therefore gravity interfered.  I watch him repeat the process of inserting the canteen into the pouch and then be baffled as it falls out three times.  I point out "It's upside down", the light bulb comes on and he takes the belt off, puts it back on and finally manages to get the canteen into the canteen pouch.  I tell the the funny story to my flight mates and we all have a laugh.  I see the same guy a few days later and he's a Lt Col.  Presumably he's a neurosurgeon or some such.  That absent-minded professor stereotype is so true sometimes.

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I know this is contrary to my fellow zipper suited sun gods view of the non-rated force, but they’re not as bad they’re often portrayed. Some are morons, but they often just don’t see the big picture. They want to help and do the best they can, but they think they’re doing it by focusing on their piece because that’s how they’ve been trained. A little education can go both ways and help everyone get better. 
 

Tactical leadership is vastly undervalued by the AF, IMO. But aviators thinking their ability to lead a 24 ship means they’re God’s gift to the military is also drastically wrong. That’s your job and the expectation.

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6 hours ago, Blue said:

Somewhat related, a lot of the health professionals don't even attend full OTS, rather they do an abbreviated version.  I think the criteria to pass is ability to put on the uniform correctly 3 out of 4 times.

I’ll caveat by concurring that gross over-generalizations are just for fun and nothing more. I mean as a USAFA/FAIP/C-17 guy I at least really, really hope so…

Also FWIW I’m told COT has now gone the way of the dodo, at least for physicians sometime during the past year or two. Full up OTS now, huzzah. 

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2 hours ago, guineapigfury said:

LOL, COT.  The best part is that they get to wear their rank on the second or third day IIRC.  I remember walking into the latrine and seeing this older guy struggle to get his canteen to go back into the pouch on his web belt.  The problem was of course that he had the belt on upside down and therefore gravity interfered.  I watch him repeat the process of inserting the canteen into the pouch and then be baffled as it falls out three times.  I point out "It's upside down", the light bulb comes on and he takes the belt off, puts it back on and finally manages to get the canteen into the canteen pouch.  I tell the the funny story to my flight mates and we all have a laugh.  I see the same guy a few days later and he's a Lt Col.  Presumably he's a neurosurgeon or some such.  That absent-minded professor stereotype is so true sometimes.

if a guy is a neurosurgeon i DGAF if he can "operate" (pun intended). i want him to literally operate.

we need COT or whatever they call it to get talented Drs into the service ASAP

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3 hours ago, guineapigfury said:

LOL, COT.  

COT?  Used to be MIMSO back in the day... at Sheppard AFB. 

If you saw "Rotating beacon out of service" in the KSPS NOTAMS, that was not a Friday night you wanted to miss.  Grab a cross-country jet and go.  The ramp was packed.  You old guys know what I'm talking about.  

Edited by HuggyU2
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At an unnamed base in Japan, a CE officer (butter bar) thought the C-130s on the ramp were there to bring the mail from the states.  This ended up being the same gal that sent a base wide email complaining that ops group pilots weren’t pulling their weight in the CGOC, subsequently getting the blessing of the Wing King to pressure pilots to join the CGOC.  

As I grew older I realized everyone starts having a deeper perspective of all elements of the mission as they mature.  By the time “nonners” are 0-4s - 0-5s, there is a common understanding of what the mission is.  To Danger’s point above, a little education both ways goes a long way.  I don’t envy the AMU 0-2 in charge of 200 maintainers while their peers are learning to put the gear down without overspeeding the jet. 

Edited by dream big
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I also respect the truth that while the AF was going through some serious force shaping about a decade ago with downsizing and "do more with less" those force cuts fell disproportionately on support fields in a vain attempt to try and preserve Ops to do it's mission during GWOT. So many of the systems that are not customer friendly today were adopted during that era as means to use limited manpower more efficiently. 

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9 hours ago, dream big said:

...while their peers are learning to put the gear down without overspending the jet. 

I feel personally attacked and unsafe

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first part of this is possibly my most "i've been on baseops for a while" post i think i've ever made:

i was trying to get finance to turn off my married rate BAH for months but no one answered the phone, the portal they have is a Byzantine maze, and the office looked* dark and locked; finally said fuck it and just pulled the sliding door open and lo and behold, there were people who were eager to help me.

i mention this because apparently the SECAF is trying to roll finance into MPF and squadron CSS functions and so is in the process of shuttering Finance shops around the service. my FE buddy told me this, no idea if it's true, but it did make me feel a lot of empathy for the E-1 and O-1 who ended up helping me, they didn't decide to do this dumb shit, they just have to go along with it, in that way they're actually remarkably like us on the rated side.

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When I went to the NCOA at Lackland I just got back from Riyadh KSA, had two weeks home before I left. The first day we are in class and we introduce ourselves, chick from Randolph was pissed because she had to come across town for the academy. Majority of the class was 552 and 55 wing ops and mx guys, it got ugly but funny at the same time, what Air force are you in?

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While I don't agree with OP--I'll say this.

I'm in support role in a senior FGO capacity.  Many in my YG notched a lot of deployed time (some in legit hazardous spots, other times rallying against the reflector belt).  I know I'm not the only one who look to those years as PD on steroids and helped us gain perspective.

I'm a tad concerned what today's CGOs will see as their crucible?  'That one time I was a Multi-Capable Airman'?

I dunno.  Like I said, makes you wonder

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6 minutes ago, Pitt4401 said:

While I don't agree with OP--I'll say this.

I'm in support role in a senior FGO capacity.  Many in my YG notched a lot of deployed time (some in legit hazardous spots, other times rallying against the reflector belt).  I know I'm not the only one who look to those years as PD on steroids and helped us gain perspective.

I'm a tad concerned what today's CGOs will see as their crucible?  'That one time I was a Multi-Capable Airman'?

I dunno.  Like I said, makes you wonder

In all reality I was typing a response I ended up deleting the other day in a different thread; but jist of it was, has anyone else noticed the huge culture gap between younger members who missed GWOT and those who spent significant investments of their life in it? I don't want to call it naivety but the idealistic enthusiasm they project is a bit telling. 

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On 9/4/2022 at 10:19 AM, FLEA said:

 

It's a bit hokey but at the base level the customer service front of these agencies is a poor reflection of their importance, largely because their actual neccesity isn't really practiced except in war or major exercises. I would like to say your poor customer service is because they spend most of their time actually focused on what that war time mission is but I don't think that's really the case. Rather, both pieces tend to naturally deter from one another. The customer service front gives them the familiarity with the systems and processes that are neccessary to them but short actual conflict they aren't actually managing them in a meaningful manner that generates war power. 

 

I was about to respond, but FLEA pretty much nailed it, especially the part above.

I will add:

- Remember that most support LTs show up to their squadrons before they even go to tech school. When you say they don’t understand the operations world…they don’t, in the most literal sense. Most of them don’t even understand their own world yet.

- The problem above gets much better with time. Does everyone always see eye to eye? Of course not, but most people are at least able to put themselves in the other set of shoes and understand the problem from both ends.

I’ll caveat FLEA’s note about leaving the military. Make the best personal decision for you based on what is important in life. However, we need rated officers that are competent senior leaders.
🥃 

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10 hours ago, 12xu2a3x3 said:

first part of this is possibly my most "i've been on baseops for a while" post i think i've ever made:

i was trying to get finance to turn off my married rate BAH for months but no one answered the phone, the portal they have is a Byzantine maze, and the office looked* dark and locked; finally said fuck it and just pulled the sliding door open and lo and behold, there were people who were eager to help me.

You missed out on a few years of a interest free loan until someone in finance realizes they paid you too much.

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6 hours ago, FLEA said:

In all reality I was typing a response I ended up deleting the other day in a different thread; but jist of it was, has anyone else noticed the huge culture gap between younger members who missed GWOT and those who spent significant investments of their life in it? I don't want to call it naivety but the idealistic enthusiasm they project is a bit telling. 

I've noticed it in the tanker world, and I don't think it's the worst thing. Sometimes it's a bit refreshing that the new guys don't get jaded and salty super fast. Plus I'm sure the countless stories of "back in my day" flying in the Gulf, Syria, Iraq, the Boulevard, Afghanistan, etc, will give them some perspective.

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10 hours ago, FLEA said:

In all reality I was typing a response I ended up deleting the other day in a different thread; but jist of it was, has anyone else noticed the huge culture gap between younger members who missed GWOT and those who spent significant investments of their life in it? I don't want to call it naivety but the idealistic enthusiasm they project is a bit telling. 

Most definitely! I don’t want to turn this into a “damn lazy generation Z” thread but generational gaps also make a difference. 

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