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PACAF command chief speaks about road ahead

by Staff Sgt. Francesca Popp
3rd Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2007 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN)  -- The Pacific Air Forces top enlisted adviser visited Elmendorf Air Force Base May 15 to 17 and spoke to Airmen about what it will take to succeed in the Air Force.

Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Bishop, the PACAF command chief master sergeant, returned to Elmendorf AFB for the second time in six months to be the featured speaker at the professional military education center graduation.

The chief offered advice to the graduates by applying how hockey legend Wayne Gretzky answered a reporter's question about being the best player.

"Wayne's response was, 'Good players skate to where the puck was. Great players skate to where the puck is. I skated to where the puck will be,'" the chief said.

He then applied that analogy in Air Force terms and how today's Airmen are filling nontraditional Air Force roles.

"Tomorrow, it's going to be cyberspace or something else. Supervisors or soon-to-be supervisors (should) quit chasing where the Air Force is today; start thinking about where the Air Force will be in two to three years," he said. "Go in that direction and provide the leadership your people need to get there in the years to come."

To help further develop those graduates, especially those completing Airman Leadership School, he said a supervisor certification program was developed. The concept for this training was a result of when PACAF's four numbered Air Forces - 5th, 7th, 11th and 13th -- command chiefs brainstormed on how to ensure ALS graduates are ready to be supervisors.

"We'd never let a maintenance person who is not trained nor certified work on an aircraft. Yet, we'll take senior airmen, right out of ALS, and trust them to work on and care for our greatest weapon system, which is our young Airmen, without any certification," Chief Bishop said. "As we looked at it, we realized we must develop a formal training program, much like the Air Force Form 623 for the technical training, that says before we're going to let you supervise, lead or care for a subordinate, you're ready for the challenge."

The command chiefs developed 11 core competencies and sub competencies, and wrote a 120-page training plan on how to train a soon-to-be supervisor to meet the core competencies.

The program was first fielded with 48 Airmen who attended ALS at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Of those, 24 Airmen completed the training and were evaluated on their progress. The chief said there was a "huge improvement" in the knowledge base of the Airmen who completed this program.

"Ultimately, if we can create a corps of NCOs in our Air Force, that from the first time they are allowed to supervise someone, they know how to do it right," he said. "Also, we never want to ask anyone to be a supervisor or a rater until they are ready. For some, it may be right after graduating from ALS, while others may take years or may never be ready to supervise another Airman."

The chief said this program currently targets ALS graduates, but he hopes it grows to become the standard for anyone who is a new supervisor. There are plans for this program to be tested command wide later this summer with the ultimate goal of presenting it to the Air Force leadership sometime in 2008.

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