Change: Something to think about

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jo Beth Parker
  • 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron
I've often been asked about my experiences over 20 years of service and how our Air Force has changed. Although I could easily take on a host of issues, today I'm feeling sentimental ... mostly about my core competency as a Transportation Officer. 

With the advent of the Logistics Readiness Officer career field some eight years ago, combining Supply, Fuels, Logistics Plans and Transportation, we have naturally morphed into an AFSC that tends to shy away from its past. In part, it is an effort to colonize four distinct career specialties and perhaps an effort to grow the best logisticians in our Air Force. 

Fortunately, for many, it has been a transparent transition. Those new to the Air Force, have never known the pre-LRO days and some, not as old as I am, went through the transition by completing round-out-training courses in the other core competencies. However, for the few on active duty that can still remember our Air Force in fatigues, those were days when a transporter was a transporter, supply was supply, and Fuels was still Fuels. It's not a criticism ... just plain fact. I love what I do as a logistician. I will never forget where I was rooted, yet I am embracing all the newness and excitement that comes with the additional opportunities, nearly a decade later. 

However, it wasn't easy! Like all things true in life, where there is change there is resistance. We struggled with the merger, but like a good family, we worked through our pride, differences and stubbornness. It became clearly evident that all of us brought unique skills to the new AFSC and moreover, we needed each other if any of us singularly, and especially as a community, would survive. We've come a long way since the days of stovepipe logistics. Communication is better, but best of all, we do logistics better. 

So, with all this feel good ink on paper, why am I feeling a bit sentimental? Mostly, it's because I don't do enough of what I use to do. I often think of those times when my entire day was spent on a flightline, JP 8 wafting in the air, 20K and 40K aircraft loaders running up and down the ramp, 463L pallets sliding along the runners of C-141s, juggling aircraft parking and working MOG, and sometimes, just pure exhaustion. Doesn't sound like much to reminisce about, but just like an LP Record (no one under 30 will understand this), sometimes you have to listen to the past in order to perfect the future. 

I recently discovered that there are only 13 percent of LROs remaining on active duty have a "core" as original transporters, supply, or log plans. It makes me wonder if in 20 more years LROs will be fondly remembering their roots as we migrate to the next phase of logistics.