INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
If you’ve ever worn a U.S. Air Force name tape, then you probably heard the saying “get to know your Airmen,” but what does that really mean?
One meaning is to find ways to foster positive exchanges through candid discussions; Airmen USAFE-wide know this method as Operation GRIT.
One squadron who has seen GRIT help them come together to be an even more effective and cohesive team is the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron. GRIT has helped them strengthen their individual flight’s readiness, develop resiliency, establish protective factors, reduce unwanted behaviors and give time back to the warfighter.
“The one benefit I’ve noticed the most is the (development of) interpersonal relationships between leaders and followers…talking to a person makes a big difference rather than being at work and being told what to do,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Cirone, 39th LRS first sergeant. “This way we actually have a relationship where we understand one another on a personal level.”
Similar to building technical expertise, professionalism and relationships don’t happen by chance. Leaders must recognize and create opportunities that allow multiple Airmen to promote each individual’s experiences and diversity of thought.
“One of the aspects we noticed from the initial start of the training, is the more we talked to each other and gained perspectives from one another, the more it opened our eyes,” said Cirone. “With the younger generation, they don’t have the same perspective as the people who have already come up through the ranks so getting that insight from them on how they handle situations and how to take care of themselves has helped us dramatically.”
GRIT isn’t designed to replace the daily interactions between Airmen, but instead provide another avenue for supervisors to engage with their subordinates at every level in a different forum.
“It creates more of an open work environment and provides us ways to approach each other,” said Staff Sgt. Evan Torgeson, 39th LRS fuels center supervisor. “It’s good to sit down with your people and talk about it in a smaller setting, it makes it relate to the Airmen and NCOs alike to sit down and talk about things.”
Although this approach only began in the fall of 2018, the concept of taking care of Airmen isn’t new; GRIT simply organizes warrior ethos topics each month to pull teams together.
“It’s simply a conversation starter and it saves a lot of time which gives Airmen their time back,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Schexnider, 39th LRS chief enlisted manager.