Os and Es

CMSgt Tamala L. Hartz

Defenders, it’s great to have a chance to communicate with you once again. Not only am I honored to be offered this chance by the Air Force Security Forces Association, from a practical standpoint this is an excellent platform from which to bring you up-to-date on what’s going on in your career field. General Tullos, Mrs. Scheppers, and I are grateful to AFSFA for including us in their publication.

During the past two years we have discussed the various changes within the career field. General Tullos and I along with our staff have undertaken a wide-ranging number of issues such as nuclear development assignments, key leadership billet identification, vectoring processes, military working dog acquisition and training, the list goes on and on. All of these initiatives are managed under a program we call the Reconstitute Defender Initiative (RDI). The intent of RDI is fairly straight forward, we want to reboot the career field to align us with the latest, most urgent expectations of our National Security Leaders and make us the most well equipped, well trained, well-educated Defenders. Of all the areas in RDI that demand our attention, one particular area commands the bulk of our attention and the majority of our efforts. That area is our training and education processes.

By now you either have heard about or soon will experience the evolution of our training processes. We’ve completely overhauled the curriculum at our Readiness Training Centers (RTC) moving away from just-in-time combat skills training to skills sustainment training based on your individual level of education and experience. We’ve added very rigorous leader-led training curriculum to the RTC with a certification Defenders can take back to their home unit and employ on flight. We’ve enhanced the formal training process by beginning work on an e-course format for upgrade training similar to what you’ll find in online university courses. We’ve also written and are in the process of adding a 9-level e-course that will eventually be mandatory for promotion to SMSgt. In keeping with the training theme, I want to bring you up to speed on our most recent training achievement.

I had the opportunity to attend the graduation of the first Apprentice Course to have been combined with the Security Forces Officer Course. That’s right, officers and enlisted Defenders are now training side by side. Every officer course will be integrated by design, not just by timing or happenstance. Beginning with the last iteration of these courses, new officers to our career field now spend time leading enlisted Defenders-to-be through the Apprentice Course. The benefits of this merger are numerous, but sometimes overlooked. To be clear, the courses continue to be independent in the course catalogue, and officers and enlisted don’t share every training objective or spend every training minute together. Officers do have an opportunity to experience leading Defenders in the training environment, which is substantially more forgiving than the operational environment. While we know those environments are quite different and one cannot substitute for the other, it is beneficial for officers to experience leadership stress before experiencing operational stress, not at the same time. Their first experience at learning the need to take care of their Defenders while still taking care of themselves will occur in a closely supervised environment.

What may be overlooked in this is the benefit for the enlisted personnel. Let’s face it, when it comes to enlisted personnel in tech training, officers may as well be unicorns. They have virtually no experience following an officer’s leadership until they arrive at their first duty station. They may glimpse an officer once or twice through basic training and tech school, but they don’t serve in a common environment pursing a mutual goal. They don’t have a chance to engage with officers, understand their roles, comprehend their intent, carry out their orders, and receive feedback. These are vital lessons that heretofore weren’t a consideration for enlisted or officers until they arrive at their first duty location and are thrust together on post. We now have an opportunity to lessen the learning curve for both, which can only be beneficial to both. I cannot say it better than the recent Apprentice Course graduates, “If it had not been for the Lts, a lot of us may not have made it!”

I look forward to even more great advancements under RDI and bringing you news of our success. Until then, thank you for what you do every day.