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1 SOLRS mentoring Airmen, growing leaders

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kendra Mathews
  • 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron commander
Although the 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron spends the majority of their time helping to support the 1st Special Operations Wing's ability to "fly, fight and win", the senior enlisted also understand the importance of developing the Airmen to shape the future Air Force. Under the guidance of Chief Master Sgt. Enrique Shaw, the squadron Top 4 developed and implemented a professional development seminar geared towards ensuring our first line supervisors have the tools necessary to become and develop the future leaders of our Air Force.

Every six months, the squadron sets aside two days for 15 senior staff sergeants or brand new technical sergeants to focus on the fundamentals of being a noncommissioned officer. Topics covered include general NCO responsibilities, writing to include performance reports, awards and decorations, Air Expeditionary Force concepts, discipline, counseling and different leadership perspectives from squadron leadership. The goal is to fill the gap between Airmen Leadership School and the NCO Academy and to provide a motivation boost to these young supervisors when they return to the work center.

All of the subjects covered in the seminar are important to the development of a good leader but the counseling and writing blocks seem to provide increased benefits. Recently, the senior leadership was briefed on the six active-duty deaths at Hurlburt in 2008. In most cases, the first line supervisor had the intimate knowledge to possibly prevent these untimely fatalities. Helping our young NCOs increase their interaction with their subordinates and improve their counseling techniques creates confidence and helps them communicate these important messages to their Airmen. The writing class not only benefits the Airmen they rate on, but the chain of command as well. Better written products require less time for editing and rewrites. This also affords them the tools to produce award-winning packages that results in well deserved recognition, loyalty, increased morale and opportunities for career progression.

Physical training has also been highlighted through this program. Brent Cowen, from the Health and Wellness Center, has taken time out of his busy schedule to take the class through instructional PT, teaching good exercise techniques and a variety of workouts. Now that physical training requirements have become a part of the enlisted performance report, it is crucial that PT not only become a part of their culture but that supervisors understand the importance and impart it to those they supervise.

Another benefit from this seminar is the opportunity for the senior NCOs to hone their leadership skills while writing and briefing the different blocks. They build relationships with younger Airmen, mentor them and get feedback as to how they can improve as well. Ultimately, it improves the communication within the squadron and helps all levels to realize their role in such things as correcting uniform violations, ensuring Airmen know how to apply Operational Risk Management on and off duty and dealing with issues that can affect and detract from mental readiness. 

This is one of the ways the 1 SOLRS senior NCO corps has taken responsibility for the development of the younger NCOs. As Chief Shaw always stresses, "NCOs have the most important job in the Air Force and the Air Force has empowered them with the status and authority to lead Airmen."

They can't successfully complete this enormous task without the right tools and mentorship. The professional development seminar is just one way the 1 SOLRS is contributing and showing that leadership cares. After all, the troops don't care what you know until they know that you care.