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CCC talks on his time at LRAFB, challenges facing Airmen

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Brooke McLean
  • 314th Airlift Wing command chief
(Editor's note: Chief McLean recently took time to sit down with the 314th Airlift Wing Strategic Information Flight to discuss his leadership style and events surrounding the base, Airmen and community.)

1. Now that you have been here at Little Rock a couple of months, what are your thoughts on the base and the people making the mission happen?

"The base is a great base. It's beautiful and we have outstanding community support. It's hard to imagine a community that supports a base any better than our partner communities do. With that is an obligation to be good neighbors. Our people are good neighbors and involved in the community.
They are also turning out a great mission product providing combat-ready aircrew. We have really great people who are very successful, smart and professional. They have sense a true sense of pride. (Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander) calls it "Rock Excellence." Rock Excellence is everywhere - whether it's the pride shown in clean facilities, well-maintained buildings, flghtline guys refurbishing airplanes or the professionalism showed during the air show. It's the total package here. It's impressive."

2. What are the biggest challenges LRAFB faces today?

"As I go around and talk to Airmen, the some recurring themes here include changes due to BRAC, housing and dormitories.
What we are trying to do from a leadership standpoint to be as transparent as we can. Any information that comes forth on BRAC we want to pass it on. Leadership is trying to be as transparent as possible so those impacted know what's going on.
Housing is continuing to improve here, but 50-year-old houses are 50-year-old houses. It's difficult to make them look like new model homes off base. American Eagle is working well with us. We've got a good aggressive construction program going on now.
Other challenges include our dormitories and getting those brought up to a new level of excellence. Those are some of the things I hear when I'm out and about."

3. What are the biggest challenges facing Airmen here?

"The drawdown and the uncertainty that accompanies it are certainly on the minds of our Airmen. I don't know that if it's as overwhelming as people tend to see it. But 40,000 Airmen cut over a 3-4 year period is a significant number. Little Rock Air Force Base took a cut of only 260, but if one job is lost here and one person loses a source of income, it's a significant impact. I ask that people not get overwhelmed with the 40,000 number.
Modernization and recapitalization continue to be issues for the Air Force. We have old airplanes and we need to buy new ones. We have the oldest C-130s and newest C-130s in the fleet on our flightline. They are great examples of where we've been and where we're going. It's going to be a bit of a challenge, but anytime you go through change, uncertainty creeps in and people start to feel uneasy about where they are and where they are going. The fleet is not getting any younger and we have to make the sacrifice and buy new airplanes."

4. What do you see as the biggest challenges NCOs are facing?

"I think the challenge for NCOs is that we're trying to do more, be lean and do Air Force Smart Operations 21 initiatives and squeeze as much as we possibly can from an efficiency standpoint. But we can't leave behind the people portion, that's what makes the Air Force special - the human interaction and caring. It is going over to the house of a deployed teammate and raking leaves and mowing their lawn. Those things aren't always necessarily efficient.
Unfortunately, you can read about leadership all you want and have people tell you about leadership all you want, but generally you have to be in the situation or "in the chair" before you can really appreciate how difficult it can be. Leadership is people skills; it's not e-mails or phone calls. It's sitting and talking with someone and learning about them, their family and what concerns them.
Leadership is a very personal thing and caring for people takes time. I'd hate it for us to be so efficient we lose the caring for people portion of leadership. If I could tell a young staff sergeant anything, it would be to not be afraid to just sit down and talk with the people who work for them. It may not seem like a very productive thing when you map it out to an efficiency timeline, but you just can't put a value on the benefits you get out of it."
5. What goals do you have for the wing?

"I want Little Rock AFB to be a place where people want to be and where they want to stay. I want it to be the base of choice in AETC. I think we are in many ways. We are a shining star in the command for our mission accomplishment, our facilities, our people and the awards they get. I want to make sure we keep driving on. We are the C-130 Center of Excellence and we should be a community of excellence. Little Rock is a great place to be!"

6. What is your leadership style and philosophy?

"I always thought you should be open and honest in your leadership style -in today's buzzwords that is transparent leadership. I always thought you should sit and talk with your people - that translates into you being a warm, touchy-feely person or a servant-leader in today's buzzwords.
It really is servant leadership - where you remember you are working for the people who are working for you. They are trying to accomplish the mission and you need to make sure you are taking care of those people.
The two things key in my philosophy are transparency and remembering I am a servant to the men and women of Little Rock - officers, enlisted, civilians and family members. That transparency and servant attitude are the things I carry forward every day when I go to work."