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Senior NCOs help a lieutenant during deployment

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt Glenn Johnson
  • 375th Security Forces Squadron
When I was first assigned to security forces, I knew I would deploy, but I thought I had plenty of time. Things did not go as I expected. With less than a year of active duty experience and two weeks after graduating technical school, I found myself leading a deployment team to Qatar. Upon arrival, my commander pulled me aside to tell me the officer I was replacing was relieved of duty, and I was instructed not to contact him. I was already nervous, but now I was starting to worry.

Regardless of my concerns, I focused on my job as a night shift flight commander of a 150-person flight conducting base defense and law enforcement operations. It was a lot to take in as a fresh lieutenant, being responsible for so many people and resources in an overseas location with no other lieutenants to guide me. I decided to continue to move forward and set some goals for my new flight in hopes of leaving my flight better than I found it.

Goal No. 1 was to ensure the flight was able to carry out the mission to the best of its ability. Secondly, improve morale and ensure everyone got home safely. Lastly, don't get fired! I was able to accomplish all of these goals as well as many others, with the help of some highly experienced fellow defenders.

The silver lining and highlight of my deployment experience were the Senior NCOs who worked for me. During the next six months, different master sergeants came and went, but each taught me how to be a better leader. By working with them, I took each of their positive qualities and made them my own. I learned to be firm and uphold standards, the importance of clear communication, and rewarding deserving Airmen for a job well done.
Together with my Senior NCOs, we watched the flight grow through the passing months. By upholding clear standards, conducting fair practices, and showing a genuine care for the well-being of our Airmen, the flight improved and my nervousness and worry turned into confidence. I soon found myself teaching my flight what I had learned by talking to small groups and individual Airman during my post checks. During these talks, I would not only check on how they were doing, but I also focused the discussion on being optimistic, leadership styles, having a plan for the future, and respecting others.

Our flight encountered numerous difficult situations. We responded to a vehicle explosion, building collapse, possible explosive devices, vehicle accidents, DUIs, accidental injuries, assaults, and emotionally unstable individuals. It took its toll at times, but as a whole, Bravo Flight carried on and continued to thrive. When my deployment was over, I was proud of all of my Airman and NCOs for the improvements they made.

My first deployment experience showed me that a good leader will never stop learning new things. I am extremely grateful for the master sergeants who helped me become a more confident and knowledgeable officer. I encourage all young leaders (officer and enlisted) to learn from the experiences of our Senior NCOs. I know I will never forget what they taught me.