173rd FW Command Chief: ‘Many parallels between Jiu Jitsu and Airmanship’

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Five a.m. most weekday mornings finds Chief Master Sgt. Dominic Ingle, the 173rd Fighter Wing Command Chief, at Mountain Warrior Academy in Klamath Falls, Oregon, training in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

He says it’s an excellent workout both for the body and the brain.

“Every time I roll it’s a new puzzle, each person you compete against brings a different dynamic and a different skill set and they are going to present you a problem that you are going to have to solve,” said Ingle. “Not only is it a physical challenge but you have that mental puzzle as well.”

Beyond the workout and the skill there are other reasons he enjoys it, such as developing people who are newer to the sport.

“What’s really cool about all this is once you do start progressing and you become a blue belt or higher, they give you the chance to train others; so all of that good stuff that someone gave to you, you get to return the favor,” said Ingle.

And that relates more closely to being a command chief than one might guess.

“To me it very much resembles developing Airmen,” said Ingle. “You can watch someone grow and develop with the ultimate goal of them mastering certain skills that they will use to help others grow; and as I grow in my own skill level, this person is going to take over for me and train the next folks. It’s very similar to what we do in the military in terms of how we develop each other.”

Developing Airmen is a priority for Ingle—he calls it Airmanship.

“Do you really appreciate what you are doing, are you truly vested in what our mission is? Make no mistake we are a critical part of the Nation’s sword and we’ve got to stay sharp,” says Ingle. “You have to be committed to this uniform, you have to be vested in who we are as well what we do.”

He goes on to say that developing Airmen has two sides, the “technical and tactical” side and also Airmanship.

The “technical and tactical” side of Kingsley Airman is exceptional, “We’ve got maintainers on Kingsley Field that the engineers actually call for advice and support personnel that the field looks to as subject matter experts shaping how business is done nationally, how freakin cool is that?!” says Ingle and adds that this is no small accomplishment considering the elevated operations tempo and ever-increasing demands on Airmen’s time.

“It is critical that we do not lose focus on developing the Airmanship and the sense of ownership throughout our ranks,” he adds.

Ingle says that one way to develop Airmanship is for the NCO corps to pass along knowledge and experience to their subordinates. Specifically, he’s looking to foster that same competence in the younger, newer members of the force with a distinct focus on the pride and ownership for both the technical side as well as the Airmanship side, building well-rounded leaders.

“I’m charging each chief, each senior, each master and each tech to sit down with those folks who are within their span of their control and develop something very specific,” he says.  He goes on to challenge all supervisors to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and design a training path accordingly.

The Jiu Jitsu model he mentioned earlier takes shape here—work to elevate the skill-level of a subordinate, ensure they can step into your shoes when it’s time for you to move on—and in the meantime, you sharpen your own leadership, learn to care for your people, demonstrate your own commitment to the mission, and pass along a culture that has made the 173rd Fighter Wing successful. In short, develop Airmanship—yours and theirs.

Ingle says he wants to focus development opportunities and training plans that target venues which are consistent with each Airman’s current career path and individual need.

“I want these plans to be developed for specific areas that will help expose our members to leadership venues or even venues that will help our members overcome areas that they are struggling in,” he says. “Tailor it to each Airmen so that they are more inclined to pick that rope up and pull,” he says referencing their contribution to the mission.

He sums up his top three priorities saying, “Passing on the felt need for ownership and a legacy of pride and heritage, provide development opportunities that are tailored toward the success of the individual Airman, and then giving that honest feedback on a continual basis, those are my top three!”