RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

What’s The Form…?

My job is not the most exciting of jobs that the RAF offers.

At best, at times, it could be described as “interesting”.

In the past I’ve worked on Tornado F3 fast jet radars, worked on secret electronic warfare equipment, been in charge of an exercise area and dealt with how teams form and work.

At times, pretty exciting stuff. But the military is broad and wide and for every cut and thrust job there is; there’s a backroom job somewhere that is…slightly less…exciting…

And mine is one of them, but it does allow me to get out and about to see what other people do. 

It’s my job to make sure that people are doing the right processes.  I look at the jobs that they do and either assist them in finding their own solutions to their problems or else I make recommendations to them myself.

For instance, we’ve been working with the station administration flight looking at the process people have to go through when leaving the station (you know the services, we need signatures for EVERYTHING!).

And it allows me to find out stuff about workplaces I would never go in to.  It allows me to learn about the different jobs that people do in the RAF.  Gives me a wider service knowledge, if you will.

Today, I had a meeting with the two civilian ladies who work in the Station Forms and Publications Store. These ladies coordinate the ordering and distribution of the all the forms used on station – either administrative or engineering forms – as well as making sure that all the documentation and technical publications are kept at the current, so called, amendment state.

Again, not exactly the most exciting job in the world.

But then I spoke to these two ladies.  And I was just blown away by them.  They really cared.  Cared that the books were right.  Cared that the people at “the front line” (their words) had the right information and documentation to do the job.  One of them looked at me and said, “It’s easy for me; I’m in a warm safe office here. I’m not getting shot at or blown up or anything. I’m not putting my life at risk.  It’s important that the lads have the right paperwork, or else they can’t do their job properly.”

In these modern day times, regarding their work, I find that people tend to think in one of two ways. Firstly people think that their job is the most important thing in the world and that everyone should revolve around them…or else the opposite is true…that their job is quite meaningless and doesn’t really do much in the grand scheme of things.

But these two ladies reminded me of something very important. That we should look to the bigger picture.  What do we do when we go into work? Do we just go in to do our job, to do the bare minimum and go home, without thought for what it really means. Or are we so blindly self important that we think we are the centre of the universe and that everyone else should revolve about us?

It made me think of the story of the NASA cleaner who, when asked what he did at the space centre, said “I put men into space”.  That story is a bit cheesy, but it was embodied by these two ladies, in the back of an office building with a view of the back of a hanger at RAF Benson. 

It’s a lovely lesson in humility and self-awareness.  They were able to identify their place in the bigger world and able to identify that their mission (to ensure all station forms and publications were up to date) was part of the larger mission of the station – to “safely deliver sustainable Puma and Merlin capability to meet operational requirements.” It’s reminded me of what my job is all about; that although I don’t actually put aircraft in the sky, I can see that what I do has an effect on the people that directly do. It’s reminded me how my job, despite it not being the most exciting, can still make a difference.

Can yours?


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One thought on “What’s The Form…?

  1. Big Brother on said:

    A very astute observation about the kind of work that many of us on “the front line” take for granted! Judging by the amount of amendments that come our way, these ladies must be dedicated to their work.
    Thanks for highlighting the work of the ‘backroom boys and girls’.

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