Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bilateral training teaches enlisted leaders to care for Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Harry Kibbe
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/19/2010 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Instructors from the Air Force First Sergeant Academy at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., prepared 99 enlisted leaders from around Japan to better care for their airmen May 11 through 14 here.

First Sergeant Academy instructors conduct 13 active duty first sergeant seminars every year. Each time their goal is to impart the skills used to maintain a capable force while looking for future senior NCOs to take up the reigns of the first sergeant.

The first sergeant's job is all about taking care of people was the message Senior Master Sgt. David Scott, the active-duty course director, shared with 74 U.S. and 15 Japanese Air Self Defense Force NCOs and Senior NCOs during the Additional Duty First Sergeant Seminar.

"We're here to share our experiences and help get these leaders ready to handle whatever comes their way," Sergeant Scott said. "We are the standard bearers, but first sergeants aren't just unit disciplinarians. Ultimately, our job is people."

This sentiment was echoed by Master Sgt. Melanie Noel, a seminar instructor.

"Being a first sergeant is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the Air Force," Sergeant Noel said. "We want to prepare people to do this job to the best of their ability by making sure they know their priority is taking care of those in need. At the end of the day, you can rest easy knowing you upheld the duties and responsibilities of a first sergeant. The softest pillow you can have is the knowledge that you did everything you were supposed to do to take care of your Airmen."

The five-day seminar covered topics including financial responsibilities, administrative actions and suicide prevention, a topic JASDF Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kawasaki was especially interested in.

"This system is a good model for what we would like to do," Chief Kawasaki said. "Suicide is a growing issue in our culture, so we would like to learn from this seminar and work together to take care of our young airmen."

Guest speakers from the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Area Defense Council and the Air Force Aid Society spoke to the future additional duty first sergeants about some of the services available to Airmen in need.

Senior Master Sgt. Sabrina Barfield, Yokota Air Base's Military Equal Opportunity director, said she attended the seminar because she has always had a desire to learn the tools to care for our enlisted force.

"Our involvement in the lives of our Airmen will allow us to combat issues at the lowest level," Sergeant Barfield said. "We are here to learn how to ensure that our force is mission ready at all times."

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