Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


An editorial in the Anchorage Daily news today got things right – it happens from time to time. Miracles do happen. The editprial sub-headline reads “Commissioned Officers give Orders; NCOs (sergeants for the uninitiated) Get Things Done.” How true, how true.

I’m a retired military officer, with prior enlisted service. In military jargon, that makes me a “Mustang.” Among other ribbons I wore on my officer’s uniform was the “Good Conduct Medal” only awarded to enlisted people. Anyone one who saw that ribbon knew me to be a “mustang officer” that is, an officer with prior enlisted service. Of that I’m rightfully proud. Because the reality is, sergeants and the other enlisted types are truly the people who run the Armed Forces. An officer may give a command (perhaps a “meaningful suggestion”) and the enlisted troops make it happen - or it doesn't happen. This is as true for a 2nd Lieutenant as for a four star general.

Behind every great general, colonel, major, or lieutenant is a competent “First Shirt” (1st Sergeant) non-commissioned officer (NCO), and behind the NCO is his enlisted backup. In our corner of the world, there’s a special bond between good officers and good enlisted that only military people can understand and appreciate. This successful relationship isn’t limited to the military, although in the military it’s in its apex.

There are many examples. Like, who runs your kid's school? The principal? Sure. But who makes what “has-to-happen” at your kid’s school happen? It’s the school secretary, that’s who. And don’t ever forget the school janitor. It’s a team. Or should be.

And who really makes things happen in our major business corporations? I submit it’s the Executive Secretary and the secretary’s assistants. They are the ones that make the President, Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors look good – or as good as they can, under the circumstances.

Same, same in the legislature. State Representatives come and go. State Senators come and go. But it’s our legislative staff that provides “institutional memory” (as well as knowing “where the bodies are buried). Legislators can conjure up a bill, but it’s the staff which gets the hearing packages ready, brings in the testifiers for pro or con presentations, and gets hearings scheduled. It’s also usually the staff that finds the “fly in the ointment” in a bill or an argument, before the legislator embarrasses himself on Gavel to Gavel television, and commits his goof to the official House Journal for all eternity.

I submit a general is only as good as his first sergeant, a CEO is only as good as the executive secretary, and a principal is only as good as the school secretary. Likewise, a legislator is only as good as their staff because – well, I could expound on that, but I’m afraid my staff will ask for a raise, and I must protect the public purse. So there.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Free Counter