Enlisted Aides: Supporting commanders from behind the scenes
Story by Amn Shelby Pruitt on 07/24/2019
Although the enlisted aide career field, 8A200, isn’t publicized as much as others, enlisted aides have been a part of the military culture for many years. With a perfect mixture of military bearing, culinary expertise and household management, enlisted aides provide an important support structure for the Air Force and its leaders.
Master Sgt. Brian Hall, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, commander of Air Education and Training Command, has been an enlisted aide for 14 years. He is also the AETC Enlisted Aide Functional Manger. As the functional manager, he is the primary point of contact for all enlisted aides in AETC.
“Air Force enlisted aides assist senior leaders in the accomplishment of official military duties through a comprehensive management system to enhance mission focus,” explained Tech. Sgt. Patricia Harvey, enlisted aide to the Air University commander and president at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Enlisted aides provide an abundance of services to their assigned general officer. They deliver uniform preparation on a daily basis, handle organization and scheduling with the general’s team, prepare menus and meals for events and designated visitors and are responsible for upkeep of the entertaining portions of the general’s house.
“In this case, it allows Gen. Kwast to focus on more innovative tactics to recruit, get training executed at a higher rate, and continuing to eliminate shortfalls,” said Hall. “He doesn’t have to worry about if the house was ready for a meeting he wants to have there, if it’s presentable to bring the mayor over, or what they are going to serve a foreign dignitary.”
“The job requires a high level of attention to detail in many areas. If overlooked it could distract the general officer from their mission,” Harvey added.
The importance of an enlisted aide is almost never overlooked by the general officer being accompanied.
“One of the things an old boss told me was having me gave him five minutes, meaning I gave him five more minutes on an important phone call, or five more minutes in a meeting, or five more minutes talking to Airmen at a call,” Hall said. “I gave him five more minutes to do that because he knew if he had to come home and change, his uniform was always good to go.”
Enlisted aides have the ability to participate in a lot of opportunities normal Airmen might not have the chance to take.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet some very high up individuals, and have had conversations with folks that I wouldn’t normally have the chance to speak to,” Hall said. “You get to see a different side of the Air Force.”
Enlisted aides are usually recruited by word-of-mouth. When authorized, current enlisted aides speak with Airman Leadership School Airmen, career assistance advisers, and base personnel for recruitment purposes.
To be an enlisted aide, Airmen have to be second-term Airmen, releasable from their current career field, and recommended by their unit commander and wing command chief.
Along with deep-study of the Air Force Instructions and practice at home, enlisted aides complete an array of training before being assigned to a designated general officer. To begin, enlisted aides are sent to the Enlisted Aide Training Course in Fort Lee, Virginia. There, Airmen learn the basics of being an aide, planning and scheduling, how to manage a household, uniform preparation, efficient cleaning processes and much more.
Then they meet with their major command functional manager for two weeks to conduct hands-on training.
After that, Airmen are enrolled in an advanced culinary school and are tasked to serve at the Air Force Executive Dining Facility for a week, providing more hands-on training.
Eventually, enlisted aide trainees are sent to the Culinary Institute of America where they complete a four-week Professional Chef Certification Course.
For more information on becoming an enlisted aide, contact the Enlisted Aide Recruiting Manager, Master Sgt. Andrew Maramag at 813-507-3995.