It’s more than just a job

  • Published
  • By Diane McCurdy
  • Director, 71st Force Support Squadron
I hear voices and they're saying, "What is the Air Force doing -- a civilian, as a squadron director (commander)." Well, that's exactly what has happened.

Those same voices are saying, "Military squadron's are to be commanded by active duty military members." Some authors have even stated the civilian-military gap is so large civilian leadership is not feasible. National studies have been conducted with civilian and military leaders presenting a starting point for debates and further studies regarding the future of civilian-military relations.

Many commentators point to what they believe to be an emerging civilian-military "gap" in the United States, and even claim that America's armed forces and its civilians no longer share the same values and understanding of the role of the military. Well I happen to disagree, and believe it can be done, and done successfully. As a career civil servant, who loves my country and loves my job, I overlook the career civil servant jokes and can honestly say, this is where I want to be.

Over the years, as I've thought of my particular situation, I am reminded of two passages from the Bible (see below) where some warriors went off to battle and some stayed behind to care for their "stuff."

When the battle was over, those who were left behind were rewarded as well as those who went to battle, because they too served a purpose, and had an important job to do. Over the course of my 31 plus years as a Department of Defense civilian, I've considered myself as one of those individuals who has stayed behind and cared for the stuff.

Whether in the Comptroller Squadron making sure military members were paid, in the Logistics Readiness Squadron making sure they had the proper uniforms, in Services making sure their families had a place to eat, recreate and attend base-wide morale functions. As the civilian leader of the 71st Force Support Squadron I have the opportunity to put all those pieces together, to ensure the men, women and families of Vance AFB are taken care of.

But it's different for me and my fellow civil servants -- no less important, but different. I know we are not always thought of in the best light. And even though we're not active-duty military members -- although some have been -- we are Airmen. We are proud and patriotic members of a local and global team. For many of us, it's more than a job; it is a career and a lifestyle.

A former Secretary of Defense is quoted saying that a "chasm" is opening between the military and civilian worlds. Others go so far as to suggest that the U.S. military is becoming less willing to accept civilian direction.

But I've not found that to be true at Vance and nowhere have I felt more honored to serve than in the 71st FSS. Always rendering proper customs and courtesies, even with a civilian director, they haven't missed a beat. I look forward to the next few years as their director and I am grateful for the opportunity -- to teach and to be taught.

Biblical references:
"And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff." 1 Samuel 25:13

"...but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike." 1 Samuel 30:24