From turning wrenches to turning tables in 20 AF, Chief Spector visits Malmstrom

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emerald Ralston
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Top leadership from the 20th Air Force came to Malmstrom Aug. 13 to 15, to participate in the deactivation festivities for the 564th Missile Squadron. Chief Master Sgt. David Spector, the new 20 AF Command Chief Master Sergeant, was among them. 

This was Chief Spector's first visit to Malmstrom in an official leadership capacity, and he said he was not disappointed. 

"First impressions are very important," Chief Spector said. "And the first impression you receive from a base is generally the security forces entry controller. When I arrived to base late [Wednesday] night, I was greeted by two of the most professional, sharp, courteous young Airmen. Then at lodging it was the same thing. Everyone has been very much on their game the whole time." 

Chief Spector said he rarely hears complaints come out of Airmen stationed at Malmstrom about the surrounding area, but Airmen seem to get a lot of bad press about Malmstrom preceding their arrival here. 

"I'd like to find a venue, such as basic training or tech school, where the positive aspects of these northern tier bases could be pumped up," he said. "Once Airmen get here they seem to have a great time. They have fun, love the mission, and leave as better individuals and better leaders than when they arrived." 

While the positive parts of being stationed at Malmstrom are important, developing leaders is what it's all about, Chief Spector said. 

"I want our enlisted corps to be known as a group of professionals, first and foremost," Chief Spector said. "When you try to define what makes a professional, those Airmen have to lead by example, they have to be educated, they have to feel empowered and they have to have confidence in their ability to be technically proficient. When they step back from all that, hopefully they have the confidence in them to be leaders. Good leadership development leads to confidence on the job." 

Chief Spector takes a lot of his leadership ideals right back to the start - basic training. 

"I believe very strongly that my success today was founded and built on what I was taught in basic training," he said. "Some big light bulbs came on in basic training. It taught me how to understand and respect attention to detail. Then I had to figure out why it was so important. When I entered the maintenance career field, I started to understand. There is a big level of responsibility when you're turning wrenches on a multi-million dollar aircraft, and there are big consequences if you turn that wrench the wrong way." 

Chief Spector said he has been very fortunate to have some supervisors who kept him in line and helped develop him, not only technically, but also as a young leader. 

"There was one supervisor specifically who took a genuine interest in me as a person, and therefore, I developed a bond and a trust with him," Chief said. "Attention to detail and responsibility were instilled in me over the years by many great supervisors, and it worries me sometimes that those leaders aren't as prevalent in today's Air Force as they could be. Supervisory development is critically important and it's definitely a challenge we will continue to face and continue to overcome." 

Supervisors are key in developing the culture of professionalism that Chief Spector intends to find in every aspect of 20 AF. 

"My goal for 20 AF is to look out at any Airman and see a competent, professional, polished Airman," he said. "I want everyone who is on the outside and doesn't know our business to look inside 20 AF and expect that they get what they see - that everything behind the scenes looks as good as it does on the surface." 

While image may not seem like the most important thing, Chief Spector said military bearing and image are crucial because when things look neat and orderly on the surface, there is a higher probability things will be running smoothly when you dig deep into an area. If things look sloppy and unkempt, he said, the chance of sloppy operations is also higher. 

This organized, pristine way of operations will make Airmen more prepared to do their job quickly, efficiently and with fewer challenges, an important part of the Nation's strategic deterrent mission, he said. 

"I want the Airmen of the 20th to be all they can be," Chief said. "I want them to be respected, to be known for being world class leaders in the nuclear enterprise. Whatever I can bring to the fight to get Airmen excited about what they do in that aspect, through leadership, education, development and support, I'm here for it. I want to go out and find out what our Airmen need from us to do the mission." 

Chief also asks that Airmen keep the basics in mind at all times and maintain a positive attitude. 

"You represent the Air Force every day," he said. "We are in service to our Nation and we need to remind ourselves of these simple concepts every day. When you put your uniform on, they're going to see you that day - off base, at the airport, on TV - who knows where you'll be, so you have to do your best at all times. If you're not positive and you're not fired up about the service you perform on behalf of our Nation, that attitude is not conducive to the Air Force way of operations. The Air Force has to have everyone on the team excited to be here." 

While keeping in mind the simple lessons learned in basic training, Chief Spector also notes that leadership and expectations are important to maintaining smooth operations and an efficient workforce. 

"In the same way I need to know [Maj. Gen. Roger Burg, 20 AF commander,]'s expectations, every Airmen needs to understand their supervisor's expectations," Chief Spector said. "We, as enlisted Airmen, need to know what is expected of us and that has to be communicated by those senior to us. As leaders and supervisors, we have to develop those expectations and articulate those to our Airmen. Our technical experts need to understand the expectations and rise to the challenge. This is a very simple concept that has a tendency to get away from us." 

Once expectations are laid out, positive attitudes are maintained and resources are secured to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the intercontinental ballistic missile bases, we will continue to do great things years into the future, Chief said. 

"Here we are with this huge responsibility and we've been doing it with dwindling resources over the years," he said. "We, in Air Force Space Command and 20 AF, are fighting two wars every day. The war we're fighting today in southwest Asia, and the one we're preventing tomorrow by having our Nation's strategic deterrent up and running. Things can be newer, better, faster and stronger and will ensure our capability to regain and maintain that foothold of trust and confidence from the American people."