Beale command post fosters culture of excellence
By Capt. Joe Simms, 940th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 19, 2013
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., -- Life as a command post controller is not a glamorous one.
Every day controllers descend down three flights of stairs, pass through four secure doors, each requiring key cards and authentication codes, where they will spend the majority of the next 12 hours of their shift.
It's easy to be overlooked but the command post at Beale Air Force Base Calif., is making a name for itself thanks to Command Post Superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Semaj McGhee.
SMSgt McGhee, an Air Reserve Technician with the 940th Wing here at Beale AFB was recently named the Air Force Reserve Command Post Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the second time in three years.
"McGhee's job knowledge and depth of experience sets him apart," said Lt Col Eric Hanson, 940th Wing Command Post Officer in Charge. "He was in the command post when we were a tanker unit and the experience of working with different airframes and multiple missions has been invaluable."
McGhee manages a staff of 16 to 22 full time controllers responsible for processing operational reports and Emergency Action Messages while monitoring every inbound and outbound aircraft at Beale AFB. The command post is also responsible for providing commanders oversight over two wings, 11 tenant units and up to four Geographically Separated units.
"The work is hard and we push our people hard," McGhee said. "It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the processes and stay qualified to support all of our tenants and Major Commands."
The command post accomplishes this around the clock mission by employing a joint active duty and Reserve crew.
"We have three fulltime ARTs and 14 active duty airmen assigned to the command post with the Reservists providing extensive experience and continuity," McGhee said. "It's a different dynamic than most command posts but it works well with the Total Force Integration culture here."
It works so well that during a 2011 Air Combat Command Unit Compliance Inspection the Inspector General recommended the Beale Command Post as an example for other command posts in the Air Force and recognized it as one of the busiest they had ever seen.
McGhee and the two other ARTs have over 40 years of command post experience between them. With this experience comes the responsibility to train the active duty airmen, most of which are junior enlisted members and only stay for a few years before they move to their next duty station.
"The command post serves as the eyes and ears of the commander and a high level of responsibility is forced upon young Airmen," said Hanson. "McGhee must make sure these Airmen are comfortable interacting with commanders and perform at a high level."
"It's a high visibility job and if you make a mistake it won't take long before everyone will know," he continued.
One way McGhee gets the most out of the Airmen is by encouraging them to strive for personal and team awards.
"Since we have different command structures and administrative assignments I use these awards as motivation for our people," said McGhee. "Since I've been here we've received 17 individual and team awards and 4 MAJCOM level awards."
In 2010, SMSgt McGhee's first year with the Beale Command Post here, he won the AFRC Command Post SNCO of the Year and one year later, in 2011, the office won the AFRC Large Command Post of the Year.
"These awards mean a lot to me," McGhee said. "I feel like it lets everyone know when you get a controller from Beale you're getting a top-notch Airman."