A Special Team Of Educators Leads The Air Guard In A New Direction
Story & photos by SPC Charles Ames
other year, the Education and Training Office of the Washington Air National Guard holds a
Non- Commissioned Officer Leadership Academy for its junior NCOs. This years Academy was
held at the beautiful and historic Eastern Washington University in Cheney, from 7-9
August, and drew 43 junior NCOs representing nearly every unit of Washington's Air
The 1998 Washington Air National Guard Non-Commissioned Officers Leadership Academy
focused on the Air Guard and Air Force Core Values. Key agenda issues were
Workplace Fairness, Character, Harassment, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Time
Management, and The Role of the Staff Sergeant (E-5) and Technical Sergeant (E-6). Other
activities on the agenda included reviewing a Mentoring program and a self-administered
personality test. But, far and away, the hot topic was harassment.
harassment is defined by the Washington Air National Guard and the United States Air Force
as any unwelcome sexual advance, request, or conduct as a condition of employment or
advancement, which creates an undesirable work environment, to include after-hours
Having been the focus
of several harassment issues over recent years, the military is moving to increase
awareness of the warning signs. Harassment is not limited to sexual harassment. It could
also be racially motivated, or any of a wide range of other abuses. "Harassment and
discrimination are inter-related. People should expect to be treated fairly, with respect
and dignity," said Instructor MSG Kellie LaRue.
think we're at a crossroads right now," said Instructor MSG Casci. "These
Non-Commissioned Officers will have to decide whether to go with the status quo, with the
way things have been in the past, or to take the Air National Guard in the direction they
want it to go. Its time for them to make a stand - right now - in their
"rookie" season as leaders
to move towards our [Air Force and Air Guard]
Core Values. One person, one issue, one time, one stand is enough to make a
difference for anybody who might be looking on."
are lots of people who don't have the strength or the ability to stand up and say,
'Somebody has to fix this'.
If one person at the right moment were to stand up and say one
thing, it would give courage to others. Integrity is the most important aspect of our
Core Values. If you say you're one thing and people see you as something
different, you lose integrity
and the Guard loses integrity. Everybody talks about
the "old Guard", or the "good old boy network". That needs to change.
And if its going to change, it needs to change with this new group of NCOs that are
coming up. It has to change one person at a time, one person that will stand up for what
Says CMSgt Craig
Weddle, one of the organizers to this Academy, "This training is not a standard Air
Force course, but rather, uniquely designed for the particular attendees from the
Washington Air National Guard. Its similar to the managerial and leadership training
one might find presented by major corporations like Microsoft, Boeing, or US West."
"I have so much
respect for the Tech Sergeants and Staff Sergeants that are going through this
Academy", says Instructor CPT Nancy Reid, "probably because when I was prior
enlisted I went through an NCO Academy that really focused my goals and changed my life.
At those ranks, a person has been in long enough to know the system and yet they still
have enough time ahead of them to affect a change. They have a lot of creative
am so pleased to be a part of this process. During our classes we talk a lot about doing
what's right and knowing what the right thing is. What we've learned is that it all boils
down to treating people with dignity and respect. Thats the bottom line. By the time
problems have gotten to a level that the Commander must become involved, there are things
that really could have been handled sooner and at lower levels. I hope that's one of the
things that people learn this weekend: give feedback so that it doesn't continue, so that
it stops at the lowest level."
As Instructor CMSgt
LaRues years with the Washington Air National Guard draw to a close we get a unique
perspective: "As a person approaching retirement, I'd like to say, I feel that I am
leaving the Washington Air National Guard in very good hands based on my assessment of the
highly-qualified individuals that have attended this seminar."
Only a handful of
other states offer this type of additional training. MG Frank Scoggins, the Commander of
the Washington Air National Guard is very enthusiastic about these programs, which all
concentrate on issues of vision, character, ethics, fairness, and professional conduct.
These issues are presented and discussed in keeping with the circumstances that confront
the Washington Air National Guard.
All the Instructors
and guest speakers are members, or retired members, of the Washington Air or Army National
Guard, and every training event begins with an address by a member of the Washington
National Guard senior command, most often MG Scoggins himself. Since the programs are not
standard USAF courses, attendance is not required for promotions. None of the programs are
meant as a substitute for required USAF training or Professional Military Training (PME).
Although the NCO-LA is
not a required course, there is never a shortage of students for this world-class series
of seminars. In the years when there is no NCO-LA held, the
Education and Training Office holds an Officers Leadership Academy. The team also conducts
seminars for Chief Master Sergeants, First Sergeants, Airmen, and First Line Supervisors
of the Washington Air National Guard.
Steven Dal Porto, who, in his civilian life, is the Superintendent of a school district in
Eastern Washington, organized the NCO-LA and heads the Education and Training Office.
two other members of this special team are MSgt Deonne Hardy and CMSgt Craig Weddle.
a few comments from some of the students...
Student SSgt Frank Chaco, 215th EIS, Everett; "I thought it was a fantastic program.
It was more, much more than I expected. I'm going to go home and immediately put it to
use. I thank everyone who put this together."
Student SSgt Troy Hopper, WADS, McChord AFB; "I thought it would be more of the same
stuff you always hear about, but now that I've been here, I've found it very enjoyable.
Ive taken a lot more out of it than I was expecting to. The instructors have all
been wonderful and entertaining, very informative, very easy to talk to. Ill
recommend this to the rest of my shop."
Student TSgt Lisa Voie, 116th ASOS, Camp Murray; "I'd love to see others take these
classes. I think that if we go back and teach others what we've learned, it will help make
our workplaces more effective. Also, I think everyone learns something about themselves
when you are dealing with the Seven Effective Habits of Highly Successful
People and how to better deal with different personalities."
Student SSgt Steven R. Paulsen, 241st CES, Camp Murray; "I wasn't particularly
looking forward to coming here to begin with. But after getting over here, I can truly,
honestly say that I'm glad I came as a supervisor, hopefully on his way up. I knew I had
some communication problems and had your standard difficulties in expressing myself. It
was nice to have all these seminars, especially on things I knew I could improve on. I
didn't realize that everyone else had these same challenges."