Geographically dispersed across Air Force’s largest base are teams of teams who belong to the one squadron, but rarely cross paths.

There are chefs, mechanics, physical training instructors, firefighters, movements personnel, aviation refuellers and a variety of other air power enablers.

After Warrant Officer Mike McDonnell posted in as the Squadron Warrant Officer of No. 23 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley earlier this year, he met with different sections within the squadron.

He said he recognised how challenging it was to maintain unit cohesion.

“In our workforce, we have about 300 full-time members and over 100 reserve members who are geographically dispersed all over the base performing very different jobs,” Warrant Officer McDonnell said.

“While they wear the same patch on their uniform, more often than not, they don’t know each other unless they’re in the same section.

“Members tend to work within their own bubble. They know what they do and they know how they contribute to squadron’s mission, but they don’t necessarily appreciate how other teams contribute and, hence, how we all collectively contribute to the generation of air power.”

After the 'Day in the life of’ initiative was launched in May, the list of interested members grew quickly and more than 70 members have since benefited from the experience.

The intent was to provide No. 23 Squadron members with opportunities to experience and observe the squadron’s operations through the lens of sections outside of their own.

“It just took off. We didn’t have to mandate this at all because members have recognised the value in the initiative themselves,” Warrant Officer McDonnell said. 

“They’ve been able to step out of the Airbase Command Post, or wherever they work, to go and watch fast jets take the cable or push pallets onto an aircraft, or go for a ride in a fire truck on the air strip.”

Going for a ride in a fire truck is exactly how Aircraftwoman Baylee Smith’s ‘Day in the life of’ experience started after she swapped her chef apron for a firefighting uniform to get a taste of life as a RAAF firefighter.

For our squadron, this initiative has been a huge success and it’s something that could be replicated throughout other areas of Air Force.

“It’s great to be out of the kitchen doing something different for the day and seeing what other No. 23 Squadron members do on the base,” Aircraftwoman Smith said.

“I’ve seen more of the base today than ever before because you don’t get out much when you’re working in the kitchen.”

Ground support equipment fitter at the Mechanical Equipment Operations and Maintenance Section (MEOMS) Corporal Nathan Randall said he couldn’t resist the opportunity to work in someone else’s job.

“Down at MEOMS, we get a lot of variety in our work,” Corporal Randall said.

“I get to work with the flying squadrons because we look after all their ground support equipment and the firies because we service their fire trucks.

“I’m also down at air movements almost every day, so I know what they all do, but I didn’t know what went into preparing the food in the kitchen.

“The intensity of activity is a bit more than what I expected.” 

Warrant Officer McDonnell said members were encouraged to complete two ‘Day in the life of’ experiences a year so that by the time they finish a three-year posting, each member will have spent six days immersed in the work life of another squadron member.

“They’ll leave with a greater appreciation of how the squadron contributes to the generation of air power,” Warrant Officer McDonnell said.

“For our squadron, this initiative has been a huge success and it’s something that could be replicated throughout other areas of Air Force.”