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386th AEW hosts First Sergeant Symposium

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing’s current and future first sergeants were able to sharpen their leadership skills during an installation-wide First Sergeant Symposium, March 14-15 and 21-22, 2020.

The professional military education symposium was designed to be an educational tool for senior non-commissioned officers to better understand the role and responsibilities that come with the title of first sergeant.

“As a council, we wanted to make this a professional, proactive and as close to perfection of a council as we can get in a deployed environment,” said Master Sgt. Michelle Burdzy, 5th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. “I think we were successful in doing that, one of our big rocks was to have a first sergeant symposium that was unlike any other here at Ali Al Salem.”

First sergeants are tasked with ensuring the force understands the commander’s policies, goals, and objectives and must also ensure support agencies are responsive to the needs of unit personnel and their families.

 “The symposium has taught me a little bit more about some tools that I can put in my toolkit as a direct supervisor, a little bit more of the foresight of what a first sergeant goes through day-to-day and better prepare myself to be more apt; better tools and better equipped to handle some of the situations that arise as a direct front-line supervisor,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rhodes, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems craftsman.

This training was unorthodox in contrast to typical additional duty first sergeant training, which consisted of on the job training, situational skits and real time-discussions and mentoring sessions. After the completion of this training, graduates are now able to assist in first sergeant duties.

“It takes a certain personality, not that you can’t adapt and overcome, but it’s not for everybody,” Burdzy continued, “You have to be the right minded person to be emotionally and physically able to handle the situations you’re going to be facing. It’s also one of the most rewarding jobs in the Air Force that you can have.”

First sergeants are expected to epitomize the highest qualities of U.S. Air Force senior NCOs. These traits require the first sergeant to always remain perceptive and credible, and to exemplify the core values of the Air Force.