“Wingman Day.” Just take a moment to let yourself bask in the stupidity of that basic concept. For anyone with even a Bud-Light-commercial grasp of the wingman idea, it’s immediately obvious that naming a day after it is the most immediate and certain way to strip it of any cachet, to make it decidedly uncool, and to all but guarantee it’ll be promptly deposited on the cultural ash heap.
Don’t tell that to the Air Force, which invented the entire idea, won wars because of it, built an entire aviation tradition around it, and then set about methodically cheapening and defiling it into pitiable disrepair when it became politically profitable to use it as a bumper sticker. Today, the term makes airmen nauseous … and the more they know of aviation history, the more pronounced their parasympathetic response. Invocation of the term by the village E-9 has been known to increase salivation, deepen respiration, and dilate the pupils.
In the last decade or so, the agitprop-generating sloganeers impersonating senior Air Force leadership have become absolutely infatuated with slapping the term “wingman” on anything vaguely associated with people taking care of one another. What was once an assumed duty and sacred obligation of teammates has been twisted into a managerial cocked hat … a rhetorical sawhorse upon which to fabricate sufficient expenditure of money, manpower, and perceived emphasis that generals and senior bureaucrats appear concerned and harvest their applicable rewards. Such explicit and serial emphasis on the term has also cast into doubt its place in the grand scheme of things, given that the need to constantly and explicitly emphasize something inevitably draws into doubt that it could still be considered an assumption.
But it’s not just that there is a “Wingman Day” or that ceasing the flying and fixing of airplanes is the central feature of this officially mandated fuckery. It’s that the Air Force doesn’t have any idea what to do with that time it has set aside to make everyone better wingmen. So it simply punts that task to the already overworked and inconvenienced organizations responsible for executing “Wingman Day” … (t)asking them to come up with “programs” and “agendas” and “plans” for how to use unnecessary downtime to coerce airmen into caring more about one another. Because, you know, forced love is the best kind.
And here’s an example of the end result. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the tortured handle now forcibly given (thanks, Donald Rumsfeld) to McChord Air Force Base, was once a proud bastion of aerial excellence. Increasingly, it’s just another barcode-laden domain of absurdity. In putting together it’s next mandated “Wingman Day,” McChord came up with some real gem ideas for how to maximize the injury to its busy people … by not only killing their focus and draining their time, but making a mockery of the entire wingman concept in the process.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. We, taxpayers, are not only paying an entire base to screw off all day instead of doing their jobs … we’re also paying someone who calls herself a “Professor of Dating/Flirting” to teach our grown adult (supposedly) military servants how to interact romantically, and apparently how cool it can be to break up. All on the public dime, all during duty hours, and all part of a mandatory program.
But wait. There’s more.
We’re also giving a seminar on how to be polite to people in the workplace. Because this is somehow (a) important in a (supposedly) military organization and (b) something we failed to accomplish during initial training and accession. Sorta raises the question … if we lack confidence that we’ve taught our people how to be appropriate with one another in the workplace, what confidence are we entitled to harbor about our basic training processes? What else did we miss? Should we also teach how to use silverware?
What does any of this have to do with mutual support and teamwork? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Remember, these classes aren’t just for our youngest or newest airmen. They’re for everyone. Ten “options” are offered and at least two must be completed for someone to have met their “Wingman Day” obligation. Whether you’re a 42-year-old O-5 or a 17-year-old E-1, the same “classes” are on offer, and assumed to hold value whatever your experiences or circumstances. They clearly don’t meet that test, which persuades everyone this is all make believe … pro forma … total bullshit … which makes this also a slap to integrity and a credibility hemorrhage for the leaders stuck selling it.
Our people are busier than ever. They don’t have time for this kind of foolishness. Put an end to this garbage and let people get back to work. Let them focus. Stop doing things that don’t add value. Stop treating airmen like children.
While you’re at it, stop abusing the wingman idea. Get it out of the throats of propagandists and cubicle-dwellers and give it back to aviation. We need it in good condition for the next war.
Oh yeah, war. Remember that?
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