Focusing on people: Command Chief for a day

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As an airman first class, I don’t really get to see anything from the perspective of my superiors. It’s easy to see things in regard to how they affect me and what I can do to make my job easier and better, but it’s also easy to place blame on those of higher rank when I feel that they are not doing all they can to fix issues I see.

I was provided the opportunity by Chief Master Sergeant Rod Lindsey, 460th Space Wing command chief, to spend a day shadowing him through a new program he is starting on Buckley Air Force Base. He will have one person a month shadow him to see what the command chief does in a normal day.

I know a lot of people would say things like “You can’t understand someone’s life from living it for a single day.” And to an extent, they are right. However, spending a day going to meetings, speaking in front of crowds and barely having a minute to breathe gave me a glimpse into a world that I have never seen before.

We started our day as the sun was rising by checking military ID cards at the Mississippi Gate. Lindsey greeted everyone with a big smile and a “Welcome to Team Buckley!” He was more than happy to wake up early and start his day working at the gate. He gave his all, even though it was just the start of his day.

After the gate, we went to the wing commander’s readiness briefing, where I was the lowest ranking in the room and wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of what was discussed was over my head, but throughout the meeting Lindsey took the time to discuss what certain acronyms meant, what each chart covered and why those specific topics needed to be covered by Buckley leadership.

On a daily basis, you can walk through an office on Buckley AFB and hear someone talk about how they need more people in their respective unit, but it was refreshing to go to the briefing and hear all of the base higher ups talking about how they can fix the low manning across the base. I have always had respect for our base leadership, and after that meeting, I felt empowered knowing they are doing everything they can to provide for their Airmen.

The rest of the morning and most of the afternoon was spent immersing ourselves into the 460th Medical Group and the 460th Security Forces Squadron. The part that stuck out to me was every person that chief spoke with he asked “What can I do for you?” He took the time to make sure the Airmen of Buckley AFB are taken care of and to find out what could be done better around base.

The next stop for Lindsey and I was the NCO Professional Education Course where we handed out certificates to NCOs who completed the week long course. Again, Lindsey took the time to sit down and talk about the issues that are currently affecting the Airmen of Buckley.

Our final responsibility for the day was the monthly promotion ceremony. Lindsey spoke with the promotees and then asked me the question “A1C Spradling, what do you expect from the newest promotees?” And although I was nervous, it was a question that really made me think. Not because I hadn’t thought about it before, but because I never assumed that the expectations of an airman first class mattered in the grand scheme of things. I’m happy to have been proven wrong and shown that opinions on every level count.

The day was not only a learning experience for me, but it also allowed Lindsey to see issues from my perspective. He asked me my opinion throughout the day on numerous topics, while also using the opportunity to get to know me, not only as an Airman, but as a person.

The day was long and tiring. Chief told me that days like that use up all of his energy because he never wants to give less than 100%. We didn’t have an opportunity to take any breaks because he wanted talk with and meet all of the needs of Team Buckley. Anything that benefitted only himself, including taking a moment to eat lunch, was the last thing on his mind.

This program provides Airmen of all ranks the opportunity to see the Air Force, Buckley AFB and our leadership in a whole new light. I am amazed by how a single day could change my entire outlook on my Air Force. Anyone who has the chance to take part in this program should jump on it because you will learn so much.

The focus of the day was simple: people. I’m proud to have been part of a program that can both grow our base and bring Team Buckley closer together.

So to chief, thank you for opening up your job and allowing me to see Buckley through your eyes. I appreciate all you do and are going to do for Team Buckley. I would also like to encourage my fellow Airmen, of all ranks, to take part in chief’s program and see how our leadership is taking care of us all.