Senior NCO creates course to boost enlisted development
Story by Jamal D. Sutter on 04/09/2019
A senior NCO with the 413th Flight Test Group recently partnered with leaders from 10th Air Force to host a pair of first-ever enlisted development courses at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, for members of Air Force Reserve Command’s aviation resource management career field.
Senior Master Sgt. Richard Neal, 413th FTG aviation resource management superintendent out of Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, prepared and taught course material designed to strengthen and foster well-rounded enlisted Reserve Citizen Airmen. Each course lasted two days, with eight students per class, and student rank ranged from airman to chief master sergeant.
Objectives covered included building a Reserve Enlisted Development Plan, explaining the Key Personnel List process and attaining a Professional Management Certification. Students also learned how to ensure proper archival of their performance reports, how to review and calculate their retirement points and much more.
Neal said his passion for enlisted development matured when he took on a leadership role at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in 2011. He found himself wanting to do more for his subordinates but felt he, first, needed to know more about all of the resources available.
Due to lack of guidance, Neal said he went years without fully understanding all he had at his disposal, so he decided to fix that and work toward ending the cycle of improper information flow.
“I’ve been in for over 28 years,” he said. “I’m an E-8. I found out most of this stuff after I had been in for about 22 years. That’s ridiculous. I should have found out long ago when I was in for maybe 10 years.”
Neal started working with 10th AF when he began traveling with them during their commander-directed compliance assessments nearly two years ago. Since then, he’s been a part of approximately a dozen assessments and at the end of each assessment, he found himself sitting with various Airmen to conduct mentoring sessions. This sparked the idea to bring his knowledge to a formal classroom setting.
“He’s got that great personality, he’s great with folks and he’s so knowledgeable,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lynn Hrisco, 10th AF aviation resource management functional manager. “I thought he’d be a great fit.”
According to Hrisco, the aviation resource management career field in AFRC took a big hit between 2012 and 2014 when many of their senior NCOs retired. With a lot of that experience gone, it left a void that needed to be filled.
“Our middle tier just wasn’t mentored or developed to that next stage,” she said. “So, we had a lot of technical sergeants now in senior billets who never got that progressive training and what they needed to know and how to pass that information on. So we’re trying to bridge this gap.”
Following the success of the initial classes, 10th AF invited Neal back to Ft. Worth to teach the course again later this summer. With feedback from students, Neal said he plans on making some tweaks to the course’s agenda and material to maximize the experience.
“I’ve already had a couple of them send me their Enlisted Development Plans for me to comment on as a mentor,” he said. “They’ve asked to expand the course to three days and add a few more things. We had to speed through some of it, because they had so many questions. I was falling behind on my timeline.”
Neal said he’s open to making the course as big as possible and sharing his knowledge with other career fields as well, but, first, he plans on bringing it back home to members of the 413th FTG in the near future.
The 413th FTG reports to 22nd Air Force and is the sole provider of depot flight test services to Air Force Materiel Command.