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Career Diversity: Necessity in the Mighty Ninety

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Paul Bobenmoyer
  • 90th Operations Group superintendent
Air Force members have a great opportunity to select from 150 enlisted and 31 officer career fields. Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores and education can determine a lot of our career paths. As we move into our career fields we get to experience the bigger picture of seeing many different opportunities outside of our own AFSC's and even outside of the numerous opportunities to serve in Air Force Global Strike Command. From first sergeants to technical school instructors, the chances to experience different views of our Air Force are always there.

I have had the great opportunity to work in Air Force Special Operations Command my entire career prior to coming here. As a C-130 engine mechanic, I have worked all models of AFSOC C-130s -- the AC-130 Spectre being my pride and joy. Prior to coming here, I have had the chance to travel all over the world and thought I had a pretty full bag of experience.

After sitting down with my supervisor in aircraft maintenance, I quickly learned I was way off the mark of experience that I thought I had versus what I really needed. My primary career field requires a special duty assignment to be competitive for senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant, so I decided to get out of my comfort zone of flight line maintenance, and enter the world of facility managers.

Coming here really opened my eyes as to what I was missing. Becoming a facility manager and experiencing the nuclear mission of the Air Force has made me more well rounded as an Airman and senior NCO. I was used to how things were on the flight line; the C-130 community is small to begin with and C-130s assigned to AFSOC make that community even smaller. Now that I've been a part of the nuclear mission, I realize there is much more to the Air Force than flying aircraft. Rather than deploying for 180 plus days a year with AFSOC, most ICBM field deployers are gone for three to five days at a time for half the year and it took some getting used to. Instead of leaving the states to unknown locations, we deploy to Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Instead of being on a remote airstrip, it's a remote ranch house.

Learning to manage yourself and other career fields at the missile alert facility can be challenging. You're basically the "mayor," and you have to be diverse to deal with countless things at the site. You have to be confident enough to make last minute decisions not only for yourself, but 10 to 14 other folks whose lives depend on that decision. You have to have the integrity to do what is right when no one is around.

From interacting with operations crew members, chefs, security forces, maintenance and civil engineer teams, a facility manager needs to know a little bit about a lot of critical things. Adapting your leadership style to all of this is vital. You can have security or maintenance teams show up at your door at 2 a.m., and they want a hot meal and a place to sleep after an 18 to 19 hour day. Satisfying those basic needs which is taken for granted is a humbling experience.

Diversity more than just knowing the folks in your workplace, which is an aspect of our careers will never go away. Going outside your comfort zone and taking on a special duty of some sort will strengthen your skills as a supervisor. Especially returning to your AFSC and implementing what you have learned. Challenge yourself and look into stepping out of your comfort zone to become more diverse and broaden your leadership skills. For me, the opportunity to serve in the nuclear deterrence business has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my career. Thank goodness my supervisor in AFSOC took the time to mentor me and force me to think more broadly about the Air Force. I encourage each of you to do the same!