BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series highlighting the Air Force Global Strike Command Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Air Force Global Strike Command recently named its Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019, recognizing the top enlisted members across the command.
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Baker, 582 Operations Support Squadron Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape program manager, won the Noncomissioned Officer of the Year category. In addition, Baker was also recently named the U.S. Air Force SERE NCO of the Year.
“Being recognized for this award is a testament to the amazing professionals that I have the privilege of working with every single day,” Baker said. “It is impossible to make progress on your own in our service. As much as this award has been presented to me, it more so should highlight the caliber of the units, the missions, the leadership, and the support network, I have had the opportunity to work in, for, and with.
“Without the lessons learned and the incredible mentorship and experiences I have received, I would not have been able to represent my unit or command at this level,” Baker added.
As a SERE specialist, Baker said that his favorite thing about his job, “hands down,” is the scope of operations.
“In a single week, I can be in the mountains conducting Combat Survival Training for Huey crews, then be in the pool with the Air Force National Guard for water survival training, pivot to training unit members in off-road vehicle operations, and then follow that up with teaching spouses wilderness survival all while trying to knock out pre-deployment requirements for an upcoming tasking,” he said. “Sitting still is something I have never been good at, which is why I can truly be excited when I put on the uniform and see what challenges the week will bring.”
While Baker loves many things about his job, he said the thing he has been most proud of in his career has been working with the whole of government within the mission of personnel recovery.
“Working on complex high-risk problems with all branches of the military, the Department of State, and the FBI has been vastly challenging but incredibly rewarding,” he said. “It fills me with personal pride to be up to the task of operating in this capacity, but it also allows me to showcase the capabilities of an Air Force NCO operating in the joint environment.”
Being a SERE specialist is personally rewarding work, Baker said, but it’s also critical to the AFGSC mission.
“My job as a SERE Specialist is to ensure that our warfighters are ready to meet the uncertainty of an ever-changing combat environment. On the surface, it may look like we are just instructing SERE procedures but in reality, we are honing the resiliency and mental flexibility of our warriors so that if they find themselves in a worst-case scenario they are equipped with the knowledge and ability to Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape and "Return with Honor,” he said. “Even being a small part of the readiness cycle in the command has a massive implication for maintaining our tactical advantage in a mission set that extends over the entire planet.”