175th Wing holds first Additional Duty First Sergeant's Symposium
By Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers, 175th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 05, 2020
Middle River, Md. --
The Maryland Air National Guard hosted their first ever additional duty first sergeants symposium. Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, the three-day training was a hybrid course with four Airmen from the West Virginia Air National Guard participating virtually and only four Airmen from the 175th Wing attending in-person.
The symposium, which took place at Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland, guided top noncommissioned officers who were willing to step up and fill the role of an additional duty first sergeant. The goal of the symposium is to give enlisted leaders an overview of what it takes to be a first sergeant and introduce them to key leaders and personnel that they will work with in that new role.
“This is an introductory course to everything that a first sergeant is going to encounter,” explained Master Sgt. Stephen Libertini, 175th Cyberspace Operations Group first sergeant. “We started with the vice wing commander, then we talked about first sergeant responsibilities. Later we had two squadron commanders come and speak to the group on their perspective of the relationship between commanders and first sergeants.”
Participants also heard from two chief master sergeants and their thoughts on the importance of first sergeants and the role that they play as senior leaders.
“When I talk about the leadership triad I am thinking about a triangle with the commander at the top and the chief and first sergeant on either side and they all interact with each other differently but they’re all complimentary parts of a whole,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Bottorff, 175th Mission Support Group superintendent. “They all come together as a leadership team to affect the unit, the mission, and make sure everything gets done and everyone is taken care of.”
Taking care of Airmen is as important as ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Bottorff, so it is important to continue training to put quality leaders in those positions.
“The mission never stops so we have to figure out how to do it and we are military so we have to adapt to the situation and that is what is going on right now,” said Bottorff. “COVID is never going to be our excuse, we cannot say the mission stops because of COVID, unacceptable, that is why these additional duty first sergeants are so important because they are force multipliers adding value, especially if we have people fall out, they’re backups to those people.”
The role of a first sergeant is rooted in the First Sergeants Creed. Their job is the Airman and everyone is their responsibility. They dedicate their time and energy to the health, morale, discipline, and welfare of their people. For one symposium attendee, she saw the importance of the position firsthand.
“It’s always about helping and taking care of the Airmen, that’s the foundation of being a first sergeant,” said Tech. Sgt. Abigail Burton, assistant flight chief assigned to the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “I spent 11 years in the active duty Air Force and the foundation of each squadron was the first sergeant.”
The additional duty first sergeant position is open to all technical sergeants who are promotable to master sergeant, master sergeants, and senior master sergeants with approval of their respective commander. According to Chief Master Sgt. Paul Muggli, 175th Wing command chief, this symposium will be a yearly event open to any individual who meets the requirements.
“We need the right people who are willing to go above and beyond their specialty to take care of our Airmen,” said Muggli. “The 175th Wing first sergeants are highly trained, passionate and dedicated to not just this symposium but to our Airmen and they are doing a great job.”