32-year enlisted aircrew member adds 'command chief' to the list

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
  • 137th Special Operations Wing

From a jet engine mechanic and KC-130 flight engineer as a Marine to a C-130H flight engineer, KC-135 boom operator, and a MC-12W tactical systems operator as an Oklahoma Air Guardsman, Chief Master Sergeant Brian Brindle adds another position to the list – 137th Special Operations Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant.

As the command chief at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base (WRANGB) in Oklahoma City, he advocates for the success and welfare of Airmen and ensures the enlisted members of the wing have a reliable and credible voice to the commander. As someone who has weathered two service branches and several mission changes, he actively provides career development, force management, and leadership guidance for Airmen now and into the future.

“Nobody ever said they are too well-trained, so I want to be sure we’re enforcing the standard of excellence that we’ve held throughout our history and for whatever mission comes our way,” said Brindle. “The only constant is change – which we have shown we do well – and we need to embrace it to evolve, transform and prepare for whatever comes next.”

His 32-year military career started right after high school in June 1987 with the Marine Corps. After recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he trained as an F-4 Phantom jet engine mechanic. His last assignment in a decade-plus career in the Marines was as a KC-130 Hercules flight engineer, which in 1998 led him to WRANGB and the Oklahoma Air National Guard as a flight engineer aboard the C-130H Hercules. In 2007, he retrained again as a boom operator when the C-130 was replaced by the KC-135 Stratotanker.

“I’ve been an enlisted aircrew member for most of my career, and I always enjoyed providing the officer corps with the enlisted perspective, making sure the input we made was heard, understood, and considered,” he said.  

His most valuable lessons upon reaching that first 20 years in the military came from basic lessons in accountability. His first NCOIC “taught” him the value of being accountable for his work while he was still a new mechanic and had a small moment of carelessness, which could have led to a mishap but luckily did not.

“I have never filled so many sandbags in my life,” Brindle laughed.

But that lesson in responsibility helped him throughout the rest of his career as he transitioned into the Oklahoma Air National Guard and then into different careers within the Wing.

In 2015, Brindle retrained as a tactical systems operator (TSO) when the 137th transitioned into a Special Operations Wing and helped build the brand new 189th Intelligence Squadron – the only TSO squadron in the Air National Guard. He said this was his favorite job throughout his career because of the people within the squadron. Those fellow operators, and the experience standing up a squadron, inspired him to continue that challenge at a higher level.

“What I’m looking forward to the most as the command chief is the opportunity to help our Airmen learn, develop, and adapt; and to see the Wing evolve into a ready-for-anything, proud, diverse, engaged organization,” said Brindle. “I want to ensure everyone feels valued and respected, and are motivated to do the hard work – whether that’s in training, in the office, or downrange. We need to continue to foster an environment of dignity and empower junior leaders to take initiative. The commander’s vision of a ‘High Intensity Operational Reserve’ sets the conditions for our success and provides the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command with a force of professional Airmen from across the Wing, regardless of specialty.” 

Though Brindle learned how important it was to maintain situational awareness, train hard, communicate well, recover from setbacks, and seek challenges through his many positions, he has found that simply listening to people and learning about their challenges, opinions, and ideas taught him the most about leadership.

“The ‘21st Century Guard Airman’ is agile, innovative, and resilient,” said Brindle. “Now more than ever, the members of the 137th are being asked to dig deep. The payoff will be a unit that serves them and the mission with equal strength, now and into the future.”