Commander for the day

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
Have you ever thought what you would do if you were an installation commander? What change would you implement, where would you focus your energy, perhaps, you would just give everyone a day off? Sometimes, overwhelmed with their jobs, Airmen wish their leaders would try walking in their shoes for a change. Although base leaders in most cases can not afford to put their own duties on hold and experiment with Airmen's jobs, there is still a way to bridge the gap. 

"If the mountain doesn't go to Muhammad, Muhammad will go to the mountain," states an old proverb. In this instance the hike is accomplished via a commander shadowing program also known as "Commander for a Day," which allows junior servicemembers an opportunity to find out first-hand what it is really like to be a commander. 

The program has been around the Air Force for many years in different variations, but the intent has been fairly consistent - to provide company grade officers and junior enlisted people the opportunity to experience the day-to-day activities of the wing commander and to introduce them to the scope of responsibility of an installation commander. 

"Through this program, our most junior Airmen will better understand how their unit and their responsibilities directly relate to mission success," said Col. Michael Bartley, 99th Air Base Wing commander. 

Staff Sgt. Sheldon Grant, intramural sports director with the 99th Services Squadron, was the first to shadow Colonel Bartley June 12. 

"I learned that the guidance that comes down from the wing commander is warranted. It was good to see why certain things are tasked," said Sergeant Grant. "I feel honored to have been chosen to participate in the program." 

He was chosen by Colonel Bartley during a wing promotion ceremony. Sergeant Grant was pinning on staff sergeant and the Services Squadron first sergeant introduced Sergeant Grant and said that his duties included "working out all day." 

"The shirt was kidding of course," explained Colonel Bartley. "However, during my closing comments, I remarked that I'd like to do that job for a couple days suggesting that perhaps Staff Sergeant Grant and I could trade responsibilities for a day ... it was then that I realized I was missing an opportunity to give back to a few Airmen." 

Colonel Bartley decided then and there to reinvigorate the shadow program and offered Sergeant Grant the first rotation as "Commander for a Day." 

Sergeant Grant said he learned a lot about leadership at the wing-level. In the course of the day he attended several meetings, a Civilian Military Council luncheon and the Airmen's Center ribbon cutting ceremony. 

"I thought our leadership didn't have too much on their agenda on a daily basis as the grunts, like me, go about our tasks," said Sergeant Grant. "My day with the commander was very jam-packed and filled with so many meetings - each required a vast amount of knowledge on all the programs involving the base. It takes a lot of quick thinking and unrattled delivery." 

Colonel Bartley said he hopes that the wing Airmen walk away after a day of wall-to-wall activities with a better understanding of what their wing leaders do to support them in the trenches and the challenges senior leaders face daily. 

The program will run on a quarterly basis and possibly even monthly if the schedule allows, said Colonel Bartley. Nomination of the participants will be made by the 99th Air Base Wing's group and squadron commanders. 

"This program will pay dividends in the future," said Colonel Bartley. "The more we can educate our young folks and motivate them to succeed, the more our Air Force benefits from their personal experiences."