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When you meet a good leader you know it Part VI

In the beginning of this blog I tried to balance between stories of toxic leaders and stories of leaders that had made a positive impact on my career. Recently I've moved away from that balance to tell the long story that ended my career, and to address topics that were bothering me about the maintenance community or that I thought would have a catastrophic impact on maintenance. But it's time to bring some balance back to the blog.

In 2013 I was working in the 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Luke Air Force Base. We had just climbed out of a maintenance death spiral and were moving in a good direction. I had a fantastic AMU Chief and a smart and hardworking AMU OIC.

Our Lead Production Superintendent was retiring, and they were bringing in a SMSgt I had never heard of before. Like our Chief, he was a PCS transplant, not a manning move from within MXG.

Most of the Lead Pro Supers I had known in my career were in varying states of stress. The jets were never cooperating, the…

Suicide is the symptom.

I want to preface this article by saying 'I am just an F-16 crew chief.' I do not have any medical training and all of these opinions are just that, opinions. I believe we have a suicide problem in the Air Force, and in aircraft maintenance in particular. Part of the problem is data is very hard to come by.  There is some data, and it even goes so far as to break down the determined method. However, the data is meta-data at best and doesn't explain all the nuances of each situation.

But the data to the right here is quite alarming. Almost half of all deaths [69 of 151] in the Air Force from August 2016 to August 2017 was caused by a self-inflicted injury. [Raise your hand if you just learned that half of the people that die in the Air Force committed suicide]

What prompted me to write about this subject now is that there have been two suicides in the same Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in the last month. I don't have any details on the motiva…

So what's with the 7 levels?

I recently asked in a Facebook post what are some subjects you the readers wanted me to write about. I received quite a few great suggestions, but one stood out as a topic that I haven't quite addressed and I believe its time is due: inexperienced 7 levels. [I will apologize in advance, this one has quite a bit of acronyms.]

Before I dive into the topic I think it's important to explain my own journey to a 7 level, and it goes all the way back to MEPS. You see, like many aspiring Airmen I didn't know what job I would get when I joined the Air Force; I came in open mechanical. Which to me seemed strange, because mechanical was my lowest ASVAB score. My recruiter assured me that my score would allow me many mechanical jobs to pick from. I tried to explain that the ASVAB was an aptitude test, and I should be selected for a job that matched my highest category. He seemed apathetic, obviously meeting his quota was his motivator, not me aligning my career to my aptitude.

To say…

What we are doing about the crisis in aircraft maintenance

A few months ago I took a slight detour from my normal blog posts to address a mandate from the Secretary of Defense[SECDEF], James Mattis.

In that mandate, SECDEF directed F-16, F-35, F-22 and F-18s to achieve a ready state of 80%. Translated for aviators and maintainers, that's an 80% MC rate. No easy feat, however an attainable and pragmatic goal given proper resources and time. SECDEF directed compliance with the readiness standard by the end of FY19 [October 2019]. Like many, I believed that timeline would translate to an unbearable work environment for the average aircraft maintainer.

I was wrong... and right.

What I learned from countless conversations and interviews from front line supervisors in the field was surprising.

I discovered that in a small amount of units, leadership was largely ignoring the mandate. Weekend duty and long shifts were still driven by the same schedule demand as before the mandate. However, there didn't appear to be any stat chasing. I believ…

Smoke doesn't always mean fire - The Epilogue

I didn't expect to write a epilogue at the end of this story; although in fairness I didn't expect many people to read this story outside my circle of friends, both personal and professional. However, I have received a lot of questions either through Reddit threads, comments, replies, or direct messages on the 20 Years Done Facebook page.

Even though I have told a chronological account of the SrA Tyler Perkie story, I think it's important to reflect on some of the events and provide a bit more insight into my thoughts or experiences.

Let's talk about loyalty first.

I'm sure Lt Col Martin and his cronies saw my behavior as disloyal. But to me he didn't really earn my loyalty beyond the cursory loyalty I was required to give by law [i.e. follow lawful orders]. Like many people, I am loyal to my ideals above all else. That isn't to say I'm not a loyal person. I'm just loyal to those that share my values and concepts of right and wrong, justice and inj…

Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part VIII

This is the eighth chapter in this story. Make sure you start at the beginning here, as this won't make much sense without context.

As we left off, I was bringing what evidence I had gathered to the Luke AFB IG office. Because I was filing a complaint against members of the 54th Fighter Group, a detachment from Luke Air Force Base, I had to coordinate at Luke.

So I brought my research into active duty F-16 EORs and my running log of the events up to that point to the IG. It's important to remember that I didn't have the 137 pages of court documents from Lt Col Martin's trial as my FOIA request was still pending release.

First let me summarize my complaint.

I made a protected communication which is defined by the Whistleblower Protection Against Reprisal Under Title 10, United States Code, Section 1034 (10 USC 1034) outlined in AFI 90-301  as communication to: ' Member of Congress or a member of their staff. An inspector general or a member of the in…

Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part VII

Spoiler: This won't be the final installment, there will be [at least] a part 8.

This story begins here, it's important to start at the beginning.

When I transferred the recording to the court, I knew I was not only destroying my career but I was also willfully making my remaining 18 months a living hell. It didn't necessarily have to be that way, I just knew the climate in the 54th Fighter Group and I knew what to expect.

Although no one could talk about it with me, everyone knew I had recorded Lt Col Martin. Essentially I was no longer included in important conversations. When I would be asked to go to the squadron to talk about our production planning or vision, Chief Fraley would stipulate that I leave my cell phone at my office. I asked other Lead Pro Supers if they had the same requirement and they said Chief Fraley didn't mention it to them at all.

The new squadron commander Maj Beebe had a standing policy that no cell phones were allowed in his office. At leas…