BETHANY BEACH, Del.- The Delaware Air National Guard Technical Sergeants Symposium was held on Mar. 6-7, 2017 at the Delaware National Guard Bethany Beach Training Site. Approximately, 131 members of the 166th Airlift Wing, currently holding the grade of E-6, were in attendance.
The two day symposium provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from guest speakers on a variety of subjects. As non-commissioned officers in the grade of E-6, technical sergeants are supervisors and technical experts. At this point they will begin to look ahead to the next step in their career progression, which is becoming senior non-commissioned officers. AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, identifies the standard for individuals serving in each rank of the enlisted force; items of this instruction were discussed during the symposium.
The first day of the symposium began with a prayer by Major Susannah Tulloch, chaplain, 166th Airlift Wing, and a morning opening by Chief Master Sgt. Shaune Peters, command chief, 166th Airlift Wing to welcome members to the Bethany Beach Training Site. In addition, Peters provided her story of career progression while serving in the DANG to attendees, and asked presenters to share their stories as well. Senior Master Sgt. John Cargan, first sergeant, 166th Airlift Wing, provided the first briefing of the day and focused on “what it means to be a first line supervisor.” He deciphered myths from facts that exist regarding leadership; provided attributes of a supervisor; and the importance of being technically, physically, and mentally ready.
Senior Cargan offered the following concepts for the technical sergeants in the room: "If you are not leading you are doing your Airmen a disservice."
"How can we account for the actions of our Airmen, if we can’t account for our own actions."
"As a leader, how are you going to provide for your people?”
As the day progressed Col. Troy Pou, commander, 166th Mission Support Squadron, presented a briefing on professionalism and counseling tips. He discussed the importance of investing time into your people, making expectations known early, and providing feedback.
“Leadership is a life style, not a title,” stated Pou.
Other topics covered on day one included: recruiting and retention; benefits, entitlements, retirement options; enlisted evaluations report writing; and equal opportunity climate survey results.
166th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Robert Culcasi was present throughout the duration of the symposium. Culcasi highlighted critical areas of focus for members of the wing including: training, Air Force Code Specialty Code (AFSC) qualification; and the difference between being qualified versus being proficient in your job duties.
Col. Culcasi used an analogy to describe the difference between being qualified in your job versus proficient by stating, “This is where you go from the minor leagues in baseball to the major leagues.”
Being proficient in your job is the desired outcome of training. In addition, Culcasi discussed the 166th Airlift Wing mission and vision statements.
During the second half of the day a special guest speaker spoke to all in attendance. Chris McKinley, former U.S. Navy Seal, discussed the importance of resilience, having a positive attitude, repetitions in learning, habituation, and having a warrior mindset. He gave examples of challenges that he faced while serving in the military, and also described how he overcame the challenges.
“Embrace and strengthen your warrior mindset, don’t be afraid to fail," said McKinley.
McKinley took the time to talk with attendees following his presentation.
On the second day of the symposium additional guests came to the Bethany Beach Training Site to participate. Senior Master Sgt. Robbie Hunt, National Guard Bureau, provided a briefing on force development. Next, Staff Sgt. Jenifer Mutter, aircrew flight equipment, 166th Airlift Wing, explained the importance of having an “I Love Me Folder” to keep track of essential documents, certificates, and items that military members may need to access throughout their careers. Additional topics presented on day two consisted of the following: inspector general information, physical fitness and nutrition, and diversity.
Col. David Walker, assistant general- Air, Delaware National Guard, came to speak with the group, provided his areas of focus for all members of the organization, and encouraged attendees to continue to grow as leaders.
“It is important to be good at your job, be professional, and teach others, said Walker.”
The symposium was very interactive, attendees had the opportunity to voice their concerns, and ask questions to leadership and all guest speakers.
As the symposium concluded Chief Peters provided items of interest, and asked for feedback from the technical sergeants on best practices within the wing. Last, she encouraged technical sergeants to take charge of their careers, keep accountability of important documents, and take advantage of opportunities to become better leaders.