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RiChArD7032
Recruit

Posts: 40
Unit: MER-DE-025

« on: August 12, 2018, 08:06:12 PM »

Hello all,

I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this.  But I've got a request for some advice. 

I've been asked if I'd like to step up and become my Squadron's newest Commander this year.  I am honored and thankful that the Commander feels that I'm ready.  I wanted to reach out and ask some advice from those of you who may have Command experience, current Commander or have worked for some great examples. 

My brief background...I'm an AD USAF SNCO with 2.5 years left till retirement in which I plan to move out of state.  I'm a former Cadet back in the 90's and have been on and off with CAP between 2004 and 2007.  I recently rejoined in January this year and have been excited to finally give back and live up to the example of the great Seniors I once had. 

What advice would you give someone thinking of taking Command?  What are some examples of good and bad traits you've seen?  Some important things to always keep in mind even as life gets busy while balancing the needs of the Squadron?

All input welcome...thanks in advance!
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Spaceman3750
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 2,639

« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 09:12:57 PM »

1. You are there to serve your people.
2. Leading volunteers is a different animal than leading military personnel.
3. Donít be a jerk.

If the things you do are based on these three things (especially 1 and 3) then youíll probably be alright. Itís worked out for me anyways.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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The moment any commander or staff member considers themselves a gatekeeper, instead of a facilitator, they have failed at their job.
I can't fix all of CAP's problems, but I can lead from the bottom by building my squadron as a center of excellence to serve as an example of what every unit can be.
OldGuy
Seasoned Member

Posts: 425
Unit: TBKS

« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2018, 11:09:44 PM »

1. You are there to serve your people.
2. Leading volunteers is a different animal than leading military personnel.
3. Donít be a jerk.

If the things you do are based on these three things (especially 1 and 3) then youíll probably be alright. Itís worked out for me anyways.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Expect nothing from upper echelons. Be grateful for what you get. Protect your people from the stupid from above. Have fun.
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Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 564

« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 12:37:35 AM »

First piece of advice for any new commander:  pick your replacement, then start training them. 

Second piece of advice for a new commander:  hire a good staff, then get out of their way and let them do the jobs you hired them to do.
Always remember the three S's that will get any commander in trouble: Safety, Supplies and $$$.
Find out when your next SUI is, and plan for a change of command either after that happens, or far enough after that you've got time to get settled into the job.  Nothing worse than having your goup commander say "Congratulations on taking command.  BTW, you have an SUI in two weeks."
You lead your people, and you serve your people.  Take care of them, and they will take care of you.
Don't be a hatchet man, but don't be afraid to cut some dead wood if you have to.

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Slim
Mitchell 1969
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 784
Unit: PCR-CA-051

« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 12:47:16 AM »

1. You are there to serve your people.
2. Leading volunteers is a different animal than leading military personnel.
3. Donít be a jerk.

If the things you do are based on these three things (especially 1 and 3) then youíll probably be alright. Itís worked out for me anyways.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Expect nothing from upper echelons. Be grateful for what you get. Protect your people from the stupid from above. Have fun.

Sounds like. It is time for you to take on an assignment at the ďupper echelons.Ē Please let us know how that works out for you.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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_________________
Bernard J. Wilson, Major, CAP

Mitchell 1969; Earhart 1971; Eaker 1973. Cadet Flying Encampment, License, 1970. IACE New Zealand 1971; IACE Korea 1973.

CAP has been bery, bery good to me.
sarmed1
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 928

« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 10:00:57 AM »

All of the above I concur with.
I truly believe in the highing of a competent staff.  I once had a military commander tell me his real function was to sign reports and hand ut awards/promotions.  He had a staff of people that were really good at thier jobs to do all of the real work of the unit.

When I was a CAP commander, I did pretty much that.  Found the best people I could to work the jobs that I needed.  Gave them the direction I wanted to them to go and gave them dates to make sure they submitted back to me the reports I needed to forward to Wing, and let them run their section from there.

Much like any military unit, one if the first things is make sure you have/can find all of the corporate assets you are assigned; once you sign for it, you need to be able to produce it (I had a typewritter on my inventory report that no one had seen for years, but it kept showing up on a report as owned property..like from 3 buildings ago)

MK
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Mark Kleibscheidel
TSgt USAFR
Stonewall
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 3,908

« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 10:17:02 AM »

I wrote this in 1999, so yeah, almost 20 years ago.  Since then, I've been a Deputy Commander for Cadets three times at three different squadrons, and a Squadron Commander (2003-2005). 

These were part of a larger article I wrote, but didn't want to overdue it, too much...

1.   Be real! Don't be something you're not. What I mean by this is, many people in CAP, cadet and senior, tend to want to portray themselves as soldiers, marines, airman, pilots, rangers, etc. Although we attempt to follow many of the same rules as the "real military", we must first realize that we are our own entity. Instead of trying to be like them, be like us. The professionals of Civil Air Patrol.

2. Looks count! Do everything within your power to make yourself look good; like a professional. Then, do everything you can to make your squadron members look good, just like you. DO NOT allow members of your squadron to wear part of a uniform or a uniform without proper insignia. No matter how much that person wants to go on that mission or help out at a recruiting drive, they'll only make you look bad. My "looks count" tenant goes for vehicles, ES equipment, and airplanes as well. You are lucky to have a CAP corporate vehicle so take care of it and keep it simple. Don't go crazy with decals and unneeded antennas. As for ES gear and equipment, keep that simple too. Use what you need and don't wear that [darn] knife upside down on your web gear. Do your best to keep from looking too "Hollywood". Don't have all those annoying bells and whistles dangling from your gear. You'll just make yourself look sloppy. About that CAP plane: it's not your plane, its CAP's; so leave it better than you found it.

3. Uniformity goes along with being professional. We are the Auxiliary of the US Air Force; the fourth leg that holds the Air Force high in the sky. Everyone looks the same or everyone looks bad. This means that either everyone wears their BDU sleeves down or no one wears them down. If your squadron has a squadron hat or T-shirt, then they all wear it or none at all. Enough said about that. And never, I mean never, wear just part of the uniform. If you're uncomfortable wearing the BDU top then take off the pants too, because you either wear all of it or none of it.

4. Build a unit schedule and live by that schedule. Pick a time frame, but make a schedule that covers a certain amount of time and fill in the blanks. I suggest designing a schedule that covers a six-month period. In this schedule you will cover both weekend activities and the weekly squadron meeting. However, you should have a generic schedule for weekly meetings that follows a certain theme (Wk 1 is ES, Wk 2 is Aerospace, Wk 3 is PT, Wk 4 is Leadership, etc.). Include in your schedule, topics for your squadron meeting as well as the person responsible for either coordinating someone to teach that topic or teaching it themselves. For the weekends, don't over-schedule your squadron. I recommend no more than one emergency services training exercise per month and maybe one other activity that's not ES related. The most important thing about a schedule is to STICK TO IT! Regardless if only 2 people show up to an activity, go through with it.

5. The only thing that should be last minute is a RED-CAP. Always be aware of what activity is coming up. You built your schedule now use it. If you know that your annual air show is coming up May 15th, don't wait until May 1st to organize it. My thought on scheduling is that if it's not planned a month ahead of time it's not planned properly. You may need help from another unit, let them know ASAP, not the week before. And when you are heading up an activity plan every last detail, even the ones that aren't supposed to happen. If you are helping with traffic control then remember the orange vests and radios.

6. Communicate and distribute all information. Email is the best way to communicate in the 90s. [Like I said, I wrote this 20 years ago] People forget about a phone call, and they forget about email too. But the next time they open up their email account it will hopefully still be sitting there and remind them they were supposed to call their cadets. Always put out information multiple times. By multiple, I mean every chance you get. Don't tell your cadets about the air show in May back in April and have that be the last time you talk about it. Mention it in every email you send and at every meeting. Even if you don't have all the information. Just remind them that their support will be needed and we'll get the information to them ASAP.

7. Weekly email. I started this the week I got my first computer. [My first computer? Must have been 1996] I got the address of everyone in the squadron that had email and sent out an email every Monday to keep them on track for what was to come at the next meeting and up to a month in advance for weekend activities. I started with about nine addresses and got up to sixty which included cadets and seniors. This email is very important and shouldn't be done unless it's done right. Don't confuse people with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, keep it simple and to the point. Talk about what's coming up at the next meeting to include the uniform of the day. Then talk about past actions where you can recognize people for doing a good job. Finally, list all activities for the next 4 or 5 weeks. When you do this just don't put "Orientation Flights", put down all the information about the orientations flights, i.e. where, when, how long, and when to be picked up.

8. T-Flight. T-Flight, or Training Flight, is one of the best concepts to ever come about during my tenure as DCC.  [Today it's referred to as "Great Start" but T-Flight is how I grew up in CAP in 1987] With the help of an experienced cadet who's maturity level exceeded his age, we developed an 8-week program for all new/potential cadet members. T-Flight could take up pages of this paper so I won't go into it in great detail. Basically you take your new recruits, make them wear the same thing (white t-shirt and jeans), teach them everything in Chapter I of the leadership book, and have them graduate together wearing their uniforms (usually BDUs). It is essential that you have one or two of your sharpest cadets running this program. It is very structured and their hands are basically held throughout the entire 8-weeks. I also make sure to keep a close eye on the program to make sure it's going according to the plan. It's not a scene out of "Full Metal Jacket", but it is a serious environment with serious results. These cadets should not interact with the other cadets or participate in any activity but the regular meeting. This gives them the feeling that it's an honor and privilege to serve in the other flights. As it should be.

9. Give your cadets responsibility. This is probably the newest thing I'm doing at my squadron. It wasn't until 2 months ago that I got the idea to start having some of the older, higher-ranking cadets teach emergency services classes. It's not as easy as just telling them to teach any old task, I had to first give classes to them on giving classes. I taught them everything I know about standing in front of a group of people and giving a professional presentation that is both informative and practical. This idea was proven to be successful at the 1999 Middle East Region Search and Rescue College where a handful of my cadets helped instruct over 60 ground team trainees from 7 different wings. They practiced giving a class to an audience a month before and were expected to have their classes ready one-week before SAR College. They performed as professionals.

10. Identify with your cadets. Remember, they are at a difficult age where they may be making decisions that affect the rest of their lives. Some of them are striving for an academy or maybe trying to make that "A" so they qualify for a college scholarship. Bear with them, and help them out when you can. Realize, that not all cadets want or need to strive for such high goals. I wasn't ready for college right out of high school, and I know I am a better person today for enlisting in the army for 4 years and waiting to start college. Whatever they do, support them. Know that some may be weaker than others, so don't ignore the weak ones; build their confidence and make them aware that they are part of the team. You may not have been a cadet before, but that doesn't make a big difference in how they view you. Carry yourself in a manner that will make them respect you, as a person and as an officer in CAP. Never assume that they aren't looking because as soon as you do you'll make a fool of yourself and they'll instantly lose respect for you. They aren't adults yet, but with your help they will turn out to be well-rounded productive adults that you can be proud of. Lead by example or don't lead at all.

Inject - yeah, this is old, but I'd say most is still very relevant today. Replace email with Facebook, and Great Start with T-Flight (although T-Flight was more structured, the best I can tell), but for the most part, these are still valid.  Your mileage may vary.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 10:24:20 AM by Stonewall » Logged
TheSkyHornet
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,252

« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 10:36:56 AM »

Talk to your fellow active duty officers and get their input as well. As an NCO, you understand the NCO world. Now convert what you know to flip the coin and understand the officer/command aspect of the process.

I strongly encourage you also look at the other choices/candidates (or those who were not selected for command) and contrast your traits with theirs, not in judgment, but to analyze why you were asked over them so that you can continue to exercise those traits.
Logged
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 28,730

« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 10:55:08 AM »

Before accepting the role, you should ascertain what level of support you will be getting
both from inside the unit and higher HQ.

Being a Unit CC isn't rocket science, but there are a lot of moving pieces, and plenty
of places higher HQ, with the wrong "leader" in place can be a PITA because instead of mentoring
you in advance, they just like to "gotcha" for "stuff you should know.

The first 30 days will have a bunch of ppwrk, committee appointments, and other required
administrivia, talk to the Group or Wing CC and get a checklist of their expectations (some
wings have "special" rules not found in the regs.

This forum is a great place to ask technical and procedural questions, lots or experience here,
but not for airing laundry.

An SUI self-inspection in the first month will give you the real-world view of what the unit
is, and isn't doing.

If your unit doesn't have electronic >only< records, make that a priority in the first 6 months,
including getting everyone .gov emails for business use.

Lastly, based on your stated timeline, you're probably only going to be around for about 2 years,
which means probably only a year of effective command, make sure everyone knows that now.
Logged


sarmed1
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 928

« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 11:51:55 AM »

Talk to your fellow active duty officers and get their input as well. As an NCO, you understand the NCO world. Now convert what you know to flip the coin and understand the officer/command aspect of the process.
....

This was some very similar advice I also recieved as a new squadron commander, with a junior NCO background.  Especially if functioning in a squadron located on base. 

MK
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Mark Kleibscheidel
TSgt USAFR
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 28,730

« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 12:22:26 PM »

The other thing I'd advise, is don't be NORDO, ever.  There's simply no excuse in this day and
age to not be available easily. 

Either answer your phone and email, or delegate with the authority to act, but don't leave members hanging
looking for an answer, and if you don't know the answer, admit that and then go an get it.

Also, if you have any problems to address, do it Week-1, rip the band aid off and move on.  Dragging
out difficult decisions or uncomfortable conversations over a long period of time loses you your "honeymoon status"
and may set the wrong tone with people who are "hoping this will finally be fixed", etc.
Logged


OldGuy
Seasoned Member

Posts: 425
Unit: TBKS

« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 12:25:15 PM »

1. You are there to serve your people.
2. Leading volunteers is a different animal than leading military personnel.
3. Donít be a jerk.

If the things you do are based on these three things (especially 1 and 3) then youíll probably be alright. Itís worked out for me anyways.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Expect nothing from upper echelons. Be grateful for what you get. Protect your people from the stupid from above. Have fun.

Sounds like. It is time for you to take on an assignment at the ďupper echelons.Ē Please let us know how that works out for you.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

BTDT it worked fine.
Logged
RiChArD7032
Recruit

Posts: 40
Unit: MER-DE-025

« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 05:29:30 PM »

I wrote this in 1999, so yeah, almost 20 years ago.  Since then, I've been a Deputy Commander for Cadets three times at three different squadrons, and a Squadron Commander (2003-2005). 

These were part of a larger article I wrote, but didn't want to overdue it, too much...

1.   Be real! Don't be something you're not. What I mean by this is, many people in CAP, cadet and senior, tend to want to portray themselves as soldiers, marines, airman, pilots, rangers, etc. Although we attempt to follow many of the same rules as the "real military", we must first realize that we are our own entity. Instead of trying to be like them, be like us. The professionals of Civil Air Patrol.

2. Looks count! Do everything within your power to make yourself look good; like a professional. Then, do everything you can to make your squadron members look good, just like you. DO NOT allow members of your squadron to wear part of a uniform or a uniform without proper insignia. No matter how much that person wants to go on that mission or help out at a recruiting drive, they'll only make you look bad. My "looks count" tenant goes for vehicles, ES equipment, and airplanes as well. You are lucky to have a CAP corporate vehicle so take care of it and keep it simple. Don't go crazy with decals and unneeded antennas. As for ES gear and equipment, keep that simple too. Use what you need and don't wear that [darn] knife upside down on your web gear. Do your best to keep from looking too "Hollywood". Don't have all those annoying bells and whistles dangling from your gear. You'll just make yourself look sloppy. About that CAP plane: it's not your plane, its CAP's; so leave it better than you found it.

3. Uniformity goes along with being professional. We are the Auxiliary of the US Air Force; the fourth leg that holds the Air Force high in the sky. Everyone looks the same or everyone looks bad. This means that either everyone wears their BDU sleeves down or no one wears them down. If your squadron has a squadron hat or T-shirt, then they all wear it or none at all. Enough said about that. And never, I mean never, wear just part of the uniform. If you're uncomfortable wearing the BDU top then take off the pants too, because you either wear all of it or none of it.

4. Build a unit schedule and live by that schedule. Pick a time frame, but make a schedule that covers a certain amount of time and fill in the blanks. I suggest designing a schedule that covers a six-month period. In this schedule you will cover both weekend activities and the weekly squadron meeting. However, you should have a generic schedule for weekly meetings that follows a certain theme (Wk 1 is ES, Wk 2 is Aerospace, Wk 3 is PT, Wk 4 is Leadership, etc.). Include in your schedule, topics for your squadron meeting as well as the person responsible for either coordinating someone to teach that topic or teaching it themselves. For the weekends, don't over-schedule your squadron. I recommend no more than one emergency services training exercise per month and maybe one other activity that's not ES related. The most important thing about a schedule is to STICK TO IT! Regardless if only 2 people show up to an activity, go through with it.

5. The only thing that should be last minute is a RED-CAP. Always be aware of what activity is coming up. You built your schedule now use it. If you know that your annual air show is coming up May 15th, don't wait until May 1st to organize it. My thought on scheduling is that if it's not planned a month ahead of time it's not planned properly. You may need help from another unit, let them know ASAP, not the week before. And when you are heading up an activity plan every last detail, even the ones that aren't supposed to happen. If you are helping with traffic control then remember the orange vests and radios.

6. Communicate and distribute all information. Email is the best way to communicate in the 90s. [Like I said, I wrote this 20 years ago] People forget about a phone call, and they forget about email too. But the next time they open up their email account it will hopefully still be sitting there and remind them they were supposed to call their cadets. Always put out information multiple times. By multiple, I mean every chance you get. Don't tell your cadets about the air show in May back in April and have that be the last time you talk about it. Mention it in every email you send and at every meeting. Even if you don't have all the information. Just remind them that their support will be needed and we'll get the information to them ASAP.

7. Weekly email. I started this the week I got my first computer. [My first computer? Must have been 1996] I got the address of everyone in the squadron that had email and sent out an email every Monday to keep them on track for what was to come at the next meeting and up to a month in advance for weekend activities. I started with about nine addresses and got up to sixty which included cadets and seniors. This email is very important and shouldn't be done unless it's done right. Don't confuse people with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, keep it simple and to the point. Talk about what's coming up at the next meeting to include the uniform of the day. Then talk about past actions where you can recognize people for doing a good job. Finally, list all activities for the next 4 or 5 weeks. When you do this just don't put "Orientation Flights", put down all the information about the orientations flights, i.e. where, when, how long, and when to be picked up.

8. T-Flight. T-Flight, or Training Flight, is one of the best concepts to ever come about during my tenure as DCC.  [Today it's referred to as "Great Start" but T-Flight is how I grew up in CAP in 1987] With the help of an experienced cadet who's maturity level exceeded his age, we developed an 8-week program for all new/potential cadet members. T-Flight could take up pages of this paper so I won't go into it in great detail. Basically you take your new recruits, make them wear the same thing (white t-shirt and jeans), teach them everything in Chapter I of the leadership book, and have them graduate together wearing their uniforms (usually BDUs). It is essential that you have one or two of your sharpest cadets running this program. It is very structured and their hands are basically held throughout the entire 8-weeks. I also make sure to keep a close eye on the program to make sure it's going according to the plan. It's not a scene out of "Full Metal Jacket", but it is a serious environment with serious results. These cadets should not interact with the other cadets or participate in any activity but the regular meeting. This gives them the feeling that it's an honor and privilege to serve in the other flights. As it should be.

9. Give your cadets responsibility. This is probably the newest thing I'm doing at my squadron. It wasn't until 2 months ago that I got the idea to start having some of the older, higher-ranking cadets teach emergency services classes. It's not as easy as just telling them to teach any old task, I had to first give classes to them on giving classes. I taught them everything I know about standing in front of a group of people and giving a professional presentation that is both informative and practical. This idea was proven to be successful at the 1999 Middle East Region Search and Rescue College where a handful of my cadets helped instruct over 60 ground team trainees from 7 different wings. They practiced giving a class to an audience a month before and were expected to have their classes ready one-week before SAR College. They performed as professionals.

10. Identify with your cadets. Remember, they are at a difficult age where they may be making decisions that affect the rest of their lives. Some of them are striving for an academy or maybe trying to make that "A" so they qualify for a college scholarship. Bear with them, and help them out when you can. Realize, that not all cadets want or need to strive for such high goals. I wasn't ready for college right out of high school, and I know I am a better person today for enlisting in the army for 4 years and waiting to start college. Whatever they do, support them. Know that some may be weaker than others, so don't ignore the weak ones; build their confidence and make them aware that they are part of the team. You may not have been a cadet before, but that doesn't make a big difference in how they view you. Carry yourself in a manner that will make them respect you, as a person and as an officer in CAP. Never assume that they aren't looking because as soon as you do you'll make a fool of yourself and they'll instantly lose respect for you. They aren't adults yet, but with your help they will turn out to be well-rounded productive adults that you can be proud of. Lead by example or don't lead at all.

Inject - yeah, this is old, but I'd say most is still very relevant today. Replace email with Facebook, and Great Start with T-Flight (although T-Flight was more structured, the best I can tell), but for the most part, these are still valid.  Your mileage may vary.

Great info.  I would love to PM you for the whole document because I think it would be great to have that for reference....great stuff.
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Stonewall
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 3,908

« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 06:07:58 PM »

Great info.  I would love to PM you for the whole document because I think it would be great to have that for reference....great stuff.

Sent link in a PM.
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,252
Unit: Worry

« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 06:41:45 PM »

1. You are there to serve your people.
2. Leading volunteers is a different animal than leading military personnel.
3. Donít be a jerk.

If the things you do are based on these three things (especially 1 and 3) then youíll probably be alright. Itís worked out for me anyways.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Expect nothing from upper echelons. Be grateful for what you get. Protect your people from the stupid from above. Have fun.

Sounds like. It is time for you to take on an assignment at the ďupper echelons.Ē Please let us know how that works out for you.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Both Oldguy and myself along with a few others put together an initiative with our prior group commander in which we would take on ADDY roles in the group and form a road school that travelled to every squadron in our group to provide assistance and share best practices on a regular basis.

Shortly before launch our group commander resigned and wing removed everyone from their group positions without notifying anyone in advance.

Demoralizing.

Shortly before I took on a new squadron commander role I applied for a wing job, was given the job, and then someone within wing decided I shouldn't have the job and so they immediately removed me without telling me why.

Demoralizing.

A group of us have AGAIN applied for and received ADDYs at wing level. I'll let you know if they go for the hat trick and fire us all again without telling us...

But I'll tell you I'm waiting for the axe to fall.

In the meantime, most of my efforts will remain at the squadron level until I'm certain Wing really means it this time when they say they want more help at upper echelons.
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