An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | June 22, 2016

Keeping up with protocol

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

From dealing with the day-to-day logistics to interacting with foreign dignitaries, the work of a protocol Airman is never done.

For U.S. Air Force Staff Sgts. Jaleesa Stalling and Jillian Hotham, their job as protocol non-commissioned officers with the Air Combat Command Headquarters Squadron is to help senior ranking officials get their jobs done by creating a distraction-free environment. 

"We allow the senior officials to focus on their specific mission and not all the little details associated with getting that mission accomplished," said Hotham. "They don't have to think about all of the logistics and can just focus on big picture policies and building relationships, while we are in the background facilitating the small details."

With a constant flow of visitors, Stalling, who was formally a fitness center personnel assigned to the 633rd Force Support Squadron, finds the diversity of each visit keeps her on her toes requiring her to rely on past experiences.

"Flexibility is key in this job," said Stalling. "There are a lot of things that will come up last minute and you just have to go with it."

As a special duty assignment, having flexibility is key for Airmen in protocol who have come from different work environments.

Hotham, who was originally a 633rd Medical Support Squadron medical logistics non-commissioned officer in charge of medical war reserve material, feels like the special duty assignment came at the right time in her career to have a chance to see a different side of the Air Force mission.

"This job allows me to network with really interesting people who I would have never been able to interact with in the hospital," said Hotham. "Having people that we meet eager to talk and give words of advice has been invaluable."

Hotham, who has been with protocol for three months, has been learning more about the job as each event occurs.

"[Protocol] is a lot of learning as you go," said Hotham. "It's not solely relying on the Air Force Instructions but on the desires of the person visiting and understanding that the next visit will be totally different. You just have to get into that mindset."

With experience and skill, protocol officers have the ability to impact the mission with the events they coordinate. 

"[Protocol] may be in the background but we get to see our work unfold," said Stalling. "For example, when policies come out or general's come out smiling because they agreed on something, we had something to do with that."

From meeting visitors on the flight line to planning general's retirements, Stalling feels that being in protocol provides a source for those who want to see how behind the scene efforts assist in accomplishing the bigger mission.