Commentary by Lt. Col. DeAnna Burt
2nd Space Operations Squadron Commander
As I look back on my last two years as a squadron commander, I have learned that command is a team sport. No one commands a squadron in our Air Force alone. It takes a host of supporting actors to assist a commander in getting the job done. In my tenure, my supporting cast can be grouped into three distinct categories: mentors, peers, and supporting agencies.
The first group, mentors, is defined as chiefs, group commanders, and vice wing and wing commanders. The chiefs have provided me valuable insight into enlisted issues and the overall philosophy of how to develop and manage Airmen — an area where I had very little previous experience. My group commanders have provided guidance and intent at the operational level on what is expected of me. Like all of your supervisors, they have also provided me honest and direct performance feedback to help me course correct my leadership style and how I am handling operations in my squadron. Finally, the vice and wing commanders have provided broad strategic guidance on how they want me to fit into the overall mission of the wing and provided feedback to ensure my personnel and operational decisions are consistent with other commanders across the wing.
Another group that has supported my success as a commander are the fourteen other squadron commanders here at Schriever. My command peers and I shared the ups and downs of the command experience day in and day out. We pick each other up when we’re down or need assistance, and celebrate each other’s successes — essentially we act as each other’s wingman. Fellow commanders also offer a sounding board to compare information and offer advice on how they have handled similar situations in the past. This non-attribution environment to “cuss and discuss” issues is a must have for any commander. Their areas of command are also an important network when working issues in my unit. For example, the 50th Security Forces Squadron commander advises me on the regulations for security at our remote antennas and here locally on our operations floor to ensure we are in compliance for all physical and personnel security requirements. Each of these experts have been only a phone call away when I needed help in their area of responsibility.
Last but not least are what I call supporting agencies. This group encompasses the judge advocate, chaplains, the airman and family readiness center, family advocacy, and the sexual assault response coordinator. All of these folks have assisted me in my greatest times of need — when one of my Airmen is in trouble or needs assistance quickly. JA offers advice on UCMJ and non-judicial punishment questions and also protects me when I am making decisions to ensure I’m not doing something illegal. Basically the JA is always checking my six. The chaplains, AFRC, family advocacy, and SARC not only run day-to-day programs that help me in assisting my Airmen in need but also act as my 911 when helping an Airman in crisis (i.e., suicide or sexual assault). Their selfless support and service are critical in helping me take care of my Airmen.
In closing, this article only touches on three groups of actors that have provided assistance in my command tenure. There are many more in the menagerie that I could have added to the list but in the interest of time and space I have only presented the primary actors above. However, the bottom line remains the same, no one commands alone. So I salute and thank my supporting cast who has helped to keep me out of trouble and achieve success during the last two years.