MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Three Airmen from the 445th Airlift Wing are part of the first class, Class 19A,to graduate from the Air Force’s First Sergeant Academy since it has increased the resident class length to four weeks in order to help fuel the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s initiative to revitalize squadrons.
The updated curriculum started Oct. 22, 2018 and now focuses more on hands-on, scenario-based training to better prepare first sergeants for their role in the squadron command team, an issue identified by the chief master sergeant of the Air Force and other senior enlisted leaders.
“Revitalizing the squadron is a pulse of our Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Manny Pineiro, first sergeant special duty manager. “When it comes to taking care of our Airmen, there is no better way to do it than having a first sergeant, so the improved course is something that is way overdue.”
Master Sgts. Joseph Andrews, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron first sergeant, Shatasha Estes, 445th Operations Support Squadron first sergeant and David Griffith, 445th Maintenance Group first sergeant, were among 98 Airmen who graduated Nov. 16, 2018.
Estes was the overall class leader for Class 19A and Andrews and Griffith were flight leaders.
The increased focus on hands-on and immersive learning also drove the FSA discontinuing the distance learning course for first sergeants.
“Prior to the four week course, we had a distance learning course,” said Senior Master Sgt. Candice Fitzmaurice, FSA director of resources. “First sergeants really weren’t getting what they needed from that course, so not only will they be going through the lessons, but they will now get more hands-on training.”
By discontinuing the distance learning portion of the curriculum, the FSA will now focus on enhancing invaluable skills such as alternate dispute resolution, resiliency, advanced counseling, Uniform Code of Military Justice/Article 15 training as well as increased engagement with former commanders.
“We are preparing the first sergeants for an opportunity to have a little bit more SA [situational awareness] as an advisor in the command leadership team,” Pineiro said. “Prior to this new four week course, two weeks just wasn’t enough time to actually train them correctly. What we did now is give them an opportunity to get more comfortable and more confident so they can be prepared to get out there and take care of their business.”
With the course enhancements in place, the FSA team said they hope this will help offset the decrease in average first sergeant experience, prepare first sergeants to handle current and emerging issues in complex environments, and to enhance performance as part of the command team.
The FSA serves the Total Force, Active Duty, Reserve and Air National Guard, and is a component of Air University’s Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education.