Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The REST of the story...realized Lt. Col Brady Glick wasn't done yet...

9. Admit When You Don’t Know Something
There are so many new systems, weapons, regulation changes, acronyms, tactics, and techniques that it’s becoming increasing hard to stay on top of all the things you need to know to do the job. It’s staggering when you think of all the layers of knowledge you are responsible for in the Air Force. You have know your plane, then the sub-systems of the plane (navigation computer, counter measures systems, displays), the mission planning software, the electronic briefing room, the simulator, and the new scheduling software. Add to that the volumes of regulations, the demands of your non-flying duties, death by PowerPoint, and the bombardment of emails from around the base. It’s amazing to me we can do our jobs at all.

The fact is…there is tons of stuff I don’t know. Even in the flying arena, all I have to do is sit through a briefing by a motivated young weapons officer and I’m lucky if I understand half of the material. It’s no sin to not know something. Ask questions and admit when you are clueless.

The same thing applies in flight. You’ve got lots of resources to draw on when you don’t know something. There are your wingmen, your SOF, ATC, Metro, FSS, and the RCO to name a few. If you don’t know something, there may be somebody else you can talk to that does.

10. Don’t Be to Proud to Change Your Mind
There are things that I knew to be true in the past that I can no longer call true. Your perspective can and probably should change with experience. It’s easy to become myopic and parochial. Every clothing outfit you’ve ever worn and every hair style you’ve ever sported, you must have thought was a good idea at the time. All I have to do is pull out pictures from the 80’s to see that I don’t possess perfect judgment and wisdom at all times. I think the ORM constructs we use now can help to put things in perspective in real time. I’m not as passionate about the need to train at 100’ AGL or knife fight BFM in a flat scissors as I used to be. You need to constantly challenge your beliefs and compare them to current realities.

11. When You Train…Make the Most of It
The government is only going to give you so much JP8 to burn in your career. How well you decide to use it is amazingly within your purview. How you train will largely determine if you are destined to be average or will actually be good. It’s easy to get into the rut of doing the same events or exercises every time you fly. In my community, it’s tempting to “mail it in” when you are going to the same weapons delivery ranges every week. Don’t fall into this trap. Push yourself to be really good in the airplane. Be proficient in all the weapons and deliveries, formations and tactics, and fundamental skills. Challenge yourself with difficult target acquisition, go to different airspace, and get realistic training.

Don’t make your training missions so complex that you never get really good at the core competencies. It’s analogous to practicing for a sport. A football team doesn’t go out and scrimmage every day. Although scrimmaging, a full dressed rehearsal for game day is important, most of the time you need to be doing drills; like blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching. It takes a lot of repetition to be good at something. Practice difficult maneuvers and deliveries over and over until you get them right. You’ll be able to do them better and safer during a complex scenario and be better prepared for game day.

It Can Happen To You
Sounds cheesy I know, but it’s true. This is an unforgiving business. Take an active role in your own safety. Supervision is important, but when you are strapping on that jet, mommy and daddy aren’t going along with you. Look in the mirror and make sure you like what you see. Be proactive in your squadron or wing. Pull a buddy aside and tell them if they are screwing up. Learn from other people’s mistakes, don’t get complacent, and listen to that little voice in your head.

You don’t want to be the guy who could have saved a squadron mate and didn’t…and you certainly don’t want to be an example in squadron safety meetings for the next 20 years.

Lt Col Brady Glick is command pilot and combat veteran with more than 4000 hours in the A-10. He is a graduate of the Air Force Weapons School, Advance Instrument School, and Flight Safety Officer Course.

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