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SNCO Symposium forges future of the enlisted

by Senior Airman Andrea Thacker
Thunderbolt staff writer
Photo by Airman 1st Class Jose Climaco

Col. Donald Halpin, (center) 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, chats with Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force (ret.) Paul Airey and Sam Parish.

Sixty-one new master sergeants and master sergeant selects didn't show up to work last week. These new SNCOs spent the week attending MacDill's fifth annual Senior Noncommissioned Officer Career Development Symposium to assist them intaking the next step on the career staircase and moving to the senior NCO tier.

MacDill's Chief's Group designed the symposium to help develop and mature the enlisted force by giving guidance and advice to the technical sergeants who will soon be promoted or who recently pinned on the master sergeant stripe.

"The symposium's overall goal is to impress upon them (new SNCOs) that going from tech to master, moving up to the senior NCO ranks is a big deal," said Chief Master Sgt. Heyward W. Kern, MacDill Professional Development Flight and symposium coordinator. "This is an awesome responsibility that goes beyond their work centers and AFSC with an expanded role and a new responsibility to their unit and base."

The subject matter was decided by asking other senior NCOs what they wished someone had told them when they became master sergeants and what they think would improve the transition from NCO to senior NCO.

"I hoped to learn just what to expect as a SNCO from junior enlisted members to the commanders, and this was accomplished," said Master Sgt. Joe Healey, 6th Air Mobility Wing Exercises and Inspections NCOIC.

The Symposium took months to plan. Guest speakers were arranged and subject matter was chosen. Those attending were briefed on subjects ranging from military equal opportunity policies to enlisted heritage.

"It was interesting to hear from many SNCOs about their experiences and situations they have come across during their careers and offering suggestions on how to deal with the many requests we may hear from today's generation of Airmen," said Sergeant Healey.

The subjects discussed also were intended to help participants learn to deal with leadership challenges.

"The symposium helped the new master sergeants meet and network with the other NCOs they are moving up in the ranks with," said Chief Master Sgt. Lloydette Joseph, Maintenance Group superintendent and symposium coordinator. "This will give them a chance to talk about their previous experiences and any fears they have in taking the steps to the senior tier."

Greater responsibility comes with the acceptance into the SNCO ranks and Sergeant Healey understands this and is ready for his new role.

"I may not affect everyone, but if I can mentor at least one individual, then the Air Force is better off today than it was yesterday," said Sergeant Healey. "Our roles as SNCOs are to lead and develop our leaders of tomorrow."

Besides learning techniques on the best ways to transition from NCO to senior NCO, they were able to listen to and talk with senior leadership.

"When you put on that Master sergeant stripe your role in the Air Force takes a big turn," explained Chief Kerns. "Your role as a NCO is larger now and your sphere of influence is huge."

The Senior NCO banquet was the climax of the week and took place July 23. See the related story below.




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