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NEWS | April 28, 2015

Protocol, it’s not what you think

By Tech. Sgt. Phillip Vickery Joint Base Charleston Protocol

Since 1995, I have had the opportunity to serve the Air Force in several capacities. As a Reservist and on active-duty; in a support role as an Aircrew Life Support technician and in operations as both a C-5 and C-17 loadmaster. I've attended every enlisted PME available (yep, even the SNCOA!), assisted my commander processing personnel discharges as an additional duty first sergeant and worked tirelessly to help others save their career with personalized PT programs as a Unit Fitness Program manager. Most recently, I've been able to further broaden my career as one of Joint Base Charleston's three active-duty Protocol specialists. This assignment, has allowed me to continue developing what author Mark Miller details in his book, The Heart of Leadership, as leadership character; specifically, the hunger for wisdom.

Air Force protocol today is often mischaracterized as "party planning" or "catering." However, it is actually an important and defining feature of our professional military force. Protocol reinforces command structure and helps define how military leaders and personnel will interact with one another while maintaining appropriate courtesy and discipline. It "encompasses the knowledge, accumulation and application of established service customs" (AFI34-1201) ensuring military traditions, courtesy and etiquette are upheld in every ceremony, celebration and event.

As a NCO, supervisor and father, it is very important to develop myself as a servant leader. I strive to continually learn as well as help those around me develop well-rounded leadership characteristics. Those characteristics include supporting positions often thought to be unimportant yet vital to establishing service customs and esprit de corps. Mark Miller describes the characteristics of a leader with the acronym: HEART.

Hunger for Wisdom, Expect the Best, Accept Responsibility, Think Other's First.

I absolutely agree with his philosophy. In regards to seeking career-broadening positions, those wishing to satiate their hunger for wisdom would be wise to consider serving as a Protocol specialist. Joint Base Charleston's chief of Protocol has more than 25 years of experience. A servant leader at her core, she has mentored countless Airmen and Sailors, sharing a wealth of knowledge and numerous leadership qualities.  In terms of developing your leadership H.E.A.R.T., Protocol is the must stop shop!