I was asked yesterday how did we intergrate two different services, specifically the Navy and the Airforce. The two services have similarites in culture and training but sufficient differences to make operations between them quite a challenge at times. In the interacion between these two services, it boils down to how they see each other and the job they need to do.
The Navy sees the Airforce as a support to the maritime campaign and approaches any interaction with the objective of “What can the Airforce do to help me do my job?”. Thus, when the Navy comes to the table, it tells the Airforce what needs to be done and how the Airforce can do it. The Airforce however, was concern about how the operations are conducted. It needs to carry out its operations in a safe and efficient way in order to optimize its resources. Thus, it tells the Navy how it will do the job, and why it cannot do certain things…
Being a naval officer working in an airforce unit has its perks and challenges. Generally, because of my different skill set, the bosses tend to leave us alone, trusting in our expertise and experience. The chaps in the Navy takes us at our word as they, too are unfamiliar with the standards and requirements set by the Airforce bosses. The challenge is to amke sure that the requirements and standards of both services are met at the same time with two different set of lenses.
The challenge lies in making sure the system works, and yet, at the same time, allowing both services to have takeaways that they can consume and are comfortable with. For example, in any particular exercise, the Navy needs to be assured that the air support will be there when called upon and flexibility is taken into consideration in planning. The Air Force, on the other hand, needs to be told that there are contingency plans in hand and safety is paramount in all planning.
This can only be done by understanding the concerns of each service and the only way anyone can do so is by undergoing the cultural passage of each service. As a naval officer, I underwent the training of a naval officer as a midshipman and as an aircrew, I had to relearn my stuff by going through the ops category training, even though I was already senior in rank.
What is the key to integration? It is the people who has gone through both the cultural passage of both systems and are able to see through both lenses at the same time.