By Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Twenty five Front Range senior NCOs graduated from Peterson’s first superintendent course at the Professional Development Center, June 29-30.
The course focused on the basic requirements of the superintendent position, part of the leadership “triad” with the commander and first sergeant.
Unlike a commander’s or first sergeant course, there hasn’t been a course focused on teaching superintendents their duties and responsibilities, until now.
The course was started at Schriever Air Force Base in 2013. Senior Master Sgt. Darren Williams, 1st Space Operations Squadron superintendent, and Senior Master Sgt. Patricia Ford, 50th Space Communications Squadron superintendent of operations, brought their course to Master Sgt. J. Paul Mackey, 21st Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor, to instruct senior NCOs from Peterson, Schriever, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
The course brings in subject matter experts on various programs a superintendent will work with, including Base Level Service Delivery Model, Military Personnel Data System, medical requirements, deployments and mentoring. There are also five panels. Each panel discusses what it means to be a superintendent and any hot topics, like force distribution and performance evaluation changes.
“We are hitting both sides of the course,” said Ford. “We are hitting the leadership side and the management side of it. Every superintendent has an administration side; that’s the paperwork and things they have to do to make sure the unit is getting the big picture for the commander. Then there’s the leadership side, where we pull in the superintendents, commanders and chiefs; those panels are the key part.”
“In (Air Force Space Command) we typically become superintendents as (master sergeants) and most definitely as senior master sergeants; where outside of (AFSPC) a lot of career fields it’s a chief who becomes a squadron superintendent,” said Williams “There’s a need, at least in the space community, to develop us earlier and bridge that developmental gap.”
Commanders are typically a squadron commander for about two years whereas a senior NCO could be a superintendent for upwards of 10 years. Williams said this course advocates the importance of understanding the superintendent’s role and opportunities to develop commanders and provide trusted council.
When Williams was stationed at Thule Air Base, Greenland, in 2011, he and Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Kincaid, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, who was at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, discovered during superintendent conference calls that there were too many uneducated superintendents. When they returned to Schriever, they decided to create a course to educate future and current superintendents on what it means to fill that position.
Williams and Kincaid taught five or six senior NCOs at their first course in 2013. Since then the program has grown to include expert presentations, and a waitlist to get in the course. In addition to Peterson, Williams and Ford hope to bring their course to Buckley Air Force Base; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and eventually the entire Air Force.
“It’s still a work in progress, we are always looking for new ideas to add to it,” said Ford. “That’s why we want to push it out to other bases. You never know who might have an experience or something we haven’t touched on and we need to update the curriculum to make sure we are hitting every aspect,” said Ford.
For more information about getting involved with or attending the course, call the Team Pete Professional Development Center at 556-9226.