MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) --
Shortly after he assumed command, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who has made squadron revitalization one of his top priorities, said “Leaders have a sacred charge: to take care of people so those people can take care of the mission .… Your duty as a leader is to work tirelessly to clear obstacles between your people and their mission.”
More than 210 first sergeants from across the Air Force did their part to aid the CSAF’s squadron revitalization effort, as they gathered at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Tennessee, July 21-27, for a summit and symposium to become better leaders of Airmen.
Leaders and functional managers from across the first sergeant community presented over the course of the week to better inform, train and prepare the first sergeants in the field.
“The first sergeant really is a lynchpin for health, morale and welfare of the unit,” said Chief Master Sgt. Casy Boomershine, Air Mobility Command first sergeant functional manager. “That’s right in their wheelhouse; that’s exactly what they’re concerned about.”
The summit, which was organized by three Tennessee Air National Guard wings, is in its fifth year. The importance of communication was a common theme throughout.
“The chief master sergeant of the Air Force has a mantra of always telling folks to squint with their ears, so you'll understand that all of our Airmen are dealing with life,” said Chief Master Sgt. Manny Piñeiro, Air Force first sergeant special duty manager. “It's our job as senior leaders to make sure that we fix those limiting factors and gain the momentum to provide them the resources they need.”
One way first sergeants were able to learn and train was simply by talking and networking with first sergeants from other units.
Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Perry Jr., Air Force First Sergeant Academy commandant, said symposiums like this allow them to share best practices and develop new ones. The focused effort to improve the lives of Airmen helps to drive the mission forward, which in turn helps to revitalize squadrons.
Another main purpose of this summit and symposium is to make sure first sergeants are prepared to make positive contributions to the leadership in their units.
Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Williams, 118th Wing, Tennessee ANG, command chief master sergeant and one of the main organizers of the event, said this gathering is designed to give first sergeants their required 12 hours of annual training and to ensure they have the proper skills to contribute as a part of the leadership triad. By being able to better advise commanders and command chiefs, these first sergeants will be doing their part in helping squadron revitalization.
The training also improved leadership skills that are vital in managing healthy squadrons.
Chief Master Sgt. Lorene Kitzmiller, ANG first sergeant functional manager, said the skills necessary to become a strong leader were being taught at this summit and symposium. This is critical because squadrons run on strong leadership and it’s essential for first sergeants to be strong leaders in order to take care of Airmen.
Some obstacles that first sergeants addressed were using their leadership roles to overcome the operational and administrative differences between the ANG, Reserve and active duty to operate as one total force.
“I find it tremendous that we have each component represented here,” said Chief Master Sgt. Travon Dennis, Air Force Reserve Command first sergeant functional manager. “Visually it sends a message to the field that we are not trying to go total force integration, we are (integrating). Nobody cares outside of that gate which branch you serve. What they are going to see is Air Force labeled on our chest.”