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NEWS | Jan. 21, 2014

Who's on your team

By Lt. Col. Tracey Smith 437th Maintenance Squadron commander

I was walking by the base track last week and saw the normal morning PT test activities going on. Airmen in different colored jerseys were running around the track as fast as they could to pass their test. This time, however, what stood out most to me was the other people present that morning. The Physical Training Leader's were standing near the finish line shouting encouragement to those on the track. There was a friend running beside an Airman helping as a pacer. I also saw a member in uniform running the last lap, helping their Airmen to finish strong. What I noticed was the teamwork present that morning. I realized that this "typical" morning on Joint Base Charleston demonstrated what makes our Air Force unique from civilian institutions. We have a culture of teamwork that makes us successful.

Every squadron on base has a unique mission set critical to Air Mobility Command's success. However, there is not a single unit that can exist on its' own. It's this dependence on each other that creates a culture of teamwork. You can see this dynamic played out every day at all levels in our organizations. When I have an Airmen facing a challenging situation, it never ceases to amaze me how willing supervisors and flight leadership are to work with them to get them back to 100percent. Whether it's getting a group of volunteers to help someone move, adjusting schedules to help with child care issues, or running practice PT tests to help someone pass a PT test, we want and need our Airmen to succeed.

So who's on your team?

- Friends and family are certainly first on the list: They are with you through the thick and thin, provide encouragement when we need it and understand the challenges of daily life. It is important to care for these relationships and reciprocate the support they give us.

- Supervisors are important teammates: They are in the coach role, helping teach, providing guidance and insight on things we may not yet have learned. What if I have a bad supervisor, you ask? Find someone in a supervisory position you trust. We all deal with bad supervisors at one point in our career. Learn what not to do from them but ensure you have someone you can look to for guidance and support who's been in your shoes.

- Base helping agencies: A&FRC, chaplains, mental health professionals, SARC, etc., are here to help and support YOU. They provide expertise that can't be found at the squadron level. If you get stuck in one area of your life, one of these agencies can provide tools and insight to get you back on track.
- Squadron, Group and Wing leadership: These folks are here to ensure you have the tools, training and resources to do your job. If one of these areas is lacking, the only way they can help is if they know what the problem is. Use your chain-of-command to highlight the good and the bad so leadership can take actions on your behalf.

What if I'm new and don't have a strong team surrounding me now? Get involved! The best way to meet new people to build your team is to find organizations to join. On base there is First 6, Top 3, Air Force Sergeants Association, Company Grade Officer Council, Logistics Officers Association, and the Airlift/Tanker Association to name a few. These groups are a great way to meet people on base and start building your network. You can also sign up to participate in activities you enjoy through the Single Airmen Initiative, Outdoor Rec trips or find local clubs off base that match your interests. The opportunities are out there, you just have to look for them.

The strength of our Air Force comes from the team work developed in our every day environment. How we develop and care for each other is what sets us apart from other organizations and gives us the resilience to face tough times.
We all know the challenges coming in 2014, so take time to ensure you have a strong team to support you. Be sure you have someone who can help encourage you, pace you and help you finish strong!