Deployed commander sets example, provides feedback to retain, develop Airmen

A U.S. Air Force Airman wears the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing patch at Ramstein Air Base, Mar. 19. The 435 AEW provides combat Airpower and base operating support for operations across Africa. The 435 AEW’s continued success relies on commanders and first line supervisor’s ability to recruit, develop and retain individuals committed to the profession of arms and Air Force core values. (Courtesy photo)

The commander of the 776th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, Lt. Col. Nicholas R. Wabeke, is taking care of Airmen by providing deployment performance feedback directly to home station commanders prior to static close-out dates of enlisted performance reports.

For the past seven months, Wabeke has been providing home station commanders feedback on their deployed members to help them in enlisted forced distribution matters.

“Previously, I had been a section (commander) in a (maintenance squadron) and the members who were deployed had no actionable information for the rack and stack discussion,” said Wabeke. “That was awkward because I knew from experience that every Airman hacking the mission downrange was doing something; we just weren’t being informed of it.”

The purpose of the SCOD feedback downrange is to ensure members receive feedback from their deployed supervisors and that this feedback is provided to home station supervisors.

Wabeke explains that “Providing feedback when it matters the most, prior to a SCOD, ensures that I can tell the story of that Airman to their supervision so that no record of an Airman assigned to the 776th EABS gets to a rack and stack without at least a message from the (deployed) first line supervisor to the home station first line supervisor.”


The performance feedback program was originally designed as a formal communication between the rater and ratee to establish expectations regarding duty performance.

“The timing of these cycles is crucial to the careers of our Airmen and the (Air and Space Expeditionary Force) cycle does not take this into account,” Wabeke said. “We cannot rely on simple end-of-tour feedback sessions as a sole means to identify talent.”

The 435th Air Expeditionary Wing’s continued success relies on our ability to recruit, develop and retain individuals committed to the profession of arms and Air Force core values.


Not only has SCOD feedback been a crucial part of a deployed Airman’s career, direct communication has motivated members at the 776th EABS.

“Airmen know we are communicating actively with their home stations,” said Wabeke. “They aren’t just a series of bullets on a letter of evaluation and an end of tour decoration.”

Home stations also noticed the efforts of deployed supervisors and Wabeke.

“The members themselves were appreciative for the deliberate effort. It represents something different with regard to feedback in the deployed environment,” Wabeke said. “Home station commanders have thanked me for the assessment and feedback for their members. For some of them, they were already well known high performers and to others, they were pleasantly surprised.”

The success and effectiveness of providing feedback to home station supervisors and commanders leaves Wabeke feeling proud that he can recognize the accomplishments of Airmen.

“The chance to highlight the top Airmen to home station commanders is always a nice win from my position and frankly it’s the least I can do given the position I am in,” Wabeke said. “I am lucky enough that these home stations provide us with such high quality performers. It is incumbent on me to provide them with this feedback.”

The 435th AEW is committed to protecting, developing and caring for Airmen. These Airmen are the reason the wing continues to succeed in accomplishing the mission better than its adversaries.