ACC gears up NCOs for growing force

  • Published
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

The command chief for Air Combat Command recently put to rest any misconceptions about the staff sergeant selection rates in the 18E5 promotion cycle.

Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten said as part of an Air Force effort to meet requirements to provide capabilities for a growing force, this year’s staff sergeant selection rate spiked to 51.12 percent.

“The 51 percent promotion rate is awesome,” Batten said. “People can say whatever they’d like to say about that. That means that we had a certain quantity of people that we needed promoted. We identified them through our promotion process, and now they’re going to sew on the next stripe.”

The growth of the force is also in support of an initiative Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein announced last month at the Pentagon titled, “The Air Force We Need.”

“As we’re growing our Air Force on the active-duty side, we need staff sergeants,” Batten said. “We need first-line supervisors to take those (junior Airmen) and train them and teach them how to be functionally competent and capable in their positions and ready to go and take the fight wherever it be — if it’s deployed or deployed-in-place — to the enemy.”

Currently, the Air Force has 312 operational squadrons. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recently announced that the Air Force needs to increase that number to 386 by 2030. As the number of squadrons increases, the number of staff sergeants required to lead Airmen will also increase.

“We need staff sergeants to care about and understand their Airmen,” Batten said. “But they need help, too. They need technical sergeants, master sergeants, senior master sergeants and chief master sergeants to take them by the hand and show them what it means to lead.”

Part of being a supervisor also means finding ways to improvise in unfamiliar situations and promote an innovative, problem-solving culture from the ground up, Batten explained.

“There’s so many things that we can fix for ourselves in the Air Force that we don’t need to wait on our Air Force to fix for us,” Batten said. “Those staff sergeants are probably the most critical piece in that whole puzzle in how we get after all of the things we need to get after.”

Batten compared supervising to parenting in a sense that leaders should want the best for their people just like a parent would want the best for his or her children.

“You make people feel that they’re wanted and they’re part of an organization that people want to be a part of by caring about them and doing everything you can to help make them better,” Batten said. “When you have that, you have increased resilience and the fact that they’re able to bounce back after things because they know you’re going to look out for them and have somebody to talk to because they know that you’re willing to listen to them. The job of a supervisor, especially at that level, is the best job in the world.”

Batten also emphasized that supervisors shouldn’t wait for the Air Force to spoon-feed Airmen with tools, courses and strategies for success. He empowers staff sergeants and supervisors at all levels to go out and find tools and training required to make themselves and their Airmen more successful.

“Don’t wait to be that bold leader,” he said. “Don’t wait to teach your Airmen how to do excel. Go out and do it. You be the best dang supervisor you can and do not worry about what the rest of the Air Force is getting after. Keep being good at what you’re doing. Keep being a great leader.”