Air Force Commentaries on Filling Squares, the Narrow Path

Writing on the Air Force homepage, SMSgt Vincent Miller penned “Filling Squares,” an article that many took as an apologist view of doing things just to get promoted:

As Airmen, we are more than familiar with the need to fill the proverbial squares as we strive to progress in our military career…Filling the squares also establishes separation from your peers and it is through this separation that you are most likely to fulfill your career aspirations and goals.

The article generated a slew of responses, some of which berated the Senior for appearing to promote ancillary activities over actual duty performance.  The comments likely took off because retired LtCol Tony Carr, recently a C-17 squadron commander, highlighted the commentary on his John Q. Public blog.

Senior Master Sergeant Vincent Miller, undoubtedly a skilled and well-meaning senior NCO, unintentionally crystallizes the difference between careerism and self-improvement in his recent opinion article entitled “Filling [S]quares…”

Carr dissected the article, ultimately calling it a failed attempt to find the (ever controversial) balance between professional service and careerism (ie, doing something just to get promoted).

In another commentary, Col Dennis Seymour writes on “That Narrow Way.”  In trying to define a “leader,” Col Seymour says

A quote that has stuck with me through the years reads, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” As leaders, we should strive to lead our troops on this “narrow way.”

When we joined the military…We looked for someone to follow who would show us the way; putting us on the right path…These days, we hear about sequestration, furloughs and budget deficits…You might think, “I didn’t sign up for all this.” But it is that narrow way we chose to walk when we signed up.

The article meanders somewhat, from the definition of a leader to the importance of communication, but its theme is interesting.  Also interesting was the first comment on the piece:

7/4/2013 1:20:56 PM ET Great article sir. Dare we put the scripture reference on that quote from paragraph two?… Realistic, OCONUS

The quote, of course, is from the King James Version of Matthew 7:14.  The remaining comments are yet another demonstration of the sensitivity of any mention of (Christian) faith in the US military — including a comment by Michael McCoy, a self-described “non-believing” Airman from Tyndall AFB, who apparently spends a lot of time on denigrating even the most remote allusions to faith.