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Torch and Dagger 2022: AETC, AFSOC unite for PDS

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Keith James
  • Air Education and Training Command

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — Airmen across Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Special Operation Command gathered to participate in a professional development seminar coined Torch and Dagger, at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 13 to 15, 2022.

“Professional Military Education, training, and networking is required at every level of Airman and Guardian careers; it’s vital to empowering critical thinking and instilling the confidence our noncommissioned officers need to execute future missions,” said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, command chief of AETC. “Torch and Dagger is a professional development tool that helps our AETC and AFSOC Airmen and Guardians get after that.

Torch and Dagger was held across three days, and was composed of enlisted Airmen from E-1 to E-9. The purpose was to increase Airmen’s understanding of National Security issues, Air Force strategic and operational concerns, leadership development, and interpersonal communication tools.

While Airmen of AETC and AFSOC seem an unlikely combination, there were plenty of binding schools-of-thought, bringing them together.

“Our NCO corps are our strategic advantage over our near-peer competitors and play a crucial role in developing the Airmen of the future,” said Chief Master Sgt. Cory Olsen, command chief of AFSOC. “A priority for both AFSOC and AETC is developing the force and their way of thinking, in order to be ready for the fights of tomorrow.”

 Three major themes unified the conversations throughout the PDS: developing the warfighters of tomorrow, lethality through NCO empowerment, and encouragement of diversity of thought and experience.

Some of the seminar’s topics included educating the force we need, building resilient Airmen, emotional intelligence, and mindset for leaders.

The enlisted force in attendance worked side-by-side to cultivate an environment of learning, discussion and problem solving; ultimately, gaining a better understanding of near-peer competitors such Russia and China, what it means to be multi-capable Airmen, and how to continue accelerating change in the Air Force.

“It was a great opportunity to participate in Torch and Dagger and get professional development along side AFSOC members,” said Staff Sgt. Alan Martinez, 318th Training Squadron aircraft maintenance instructor. “The nuggets and lessons I take away from this seminar, I plan to use in my career to help develop and train not only my Airmen but prepare them for the Air Force of the future.”

Although the first of its kind, AETC and AFSOC plan to continue to host Torch and Dagger as an inaugural PDS to prepare Airmen to better understand the international environment, the force we have today, and the force we need tomorrow.