Boards Promote Enlisted Leadership at Selfridge

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Sports Center may help Antony Liggins become a chief master sergeant.

Senior Master Sgt. Liggins, a boom operator with the 127tth Air Refueling Squadron, was scheduled to meet with a promotion board in mid-December and used the popular sports news show on ESPN to help him prepare.

"I would recite the Airman's Creed while Sports Center was on," Liggins said moments after leaving his board interview. "I knew standing in front of the board I would be nervous and that I might be distracted by something. I knew if I could recite the Creed while being distracted by the TV, it would help me before the board."

Oh, and one other thing:

"I read the Little Brown Book front to back and back to front, several times," said Senior Master Sgt. Jim Hart, 191st Maintenance Squadron, who also was a candidate before the promotion board.

While those seeking promotion to the position of chief master sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force, have always had to appear before a promotion board prior to a possible promotion, promotion boards will soon be used for all noncommissioned officer ranks within the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. The decision to make increasing use of the promotion board process is part of a decision to place a new focus on enlisted leadership in the Michigan Air National Guard. The board makes a recommendation on an individual's eligibility for promotion to the appropriate commander, who makes the final decision to promote or not to promote.

"What we are looking for in the board process is a person who has the qualities to be a leader," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dobson, command chief for the 127th Wing. "We are trying to look at the whole picture of who this person is."

The "Little Brown Book" -- Air Force Instruction 36-2618 "The Enlisted Force Structure" - is the basic guiding document for all enlisted members of the Air Force and described the leadership and related duties and functions each Airman should aspire to achieve at each stage of his or her military career.

"Looking at the book, reviewing the Air Force symbol - I just re-blued myself a little bit," Liggins said.

Promotion boards are seeking different things from a person at different points of an Airman's career. For a chief's board, knowledge in a specialized area can be less important.

"This isn't about technical expertise in an Air Force Specialty Code," Dobson said, a sentiment that was echoed by the other chiefs who sat on the promotion board in December. (A promotion board for consideration for chief master sergeant is made up exclusively of chiefs and by local instruction is always chaired by the wing command chief. Boards for lower ranks can be comprised of NCOs of various ranks.)

"I'm looking for somebody who understands how to put all the pieces together, not just from his or her own shop," said Chief Master Sgt. Gary Fantauzzo, 127th Force Support Squadron.

While the candidates who appear before the board are strongly encouraged to spend some time in preparation - all candidates must recite the Airmen's Creed as part of the process - those who sit on the board must spend some time in preparation as well.

"I have to set aside my own prejudice that my own career field is the best one in the Air Force," said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Carroll, 127th Civil Engineer Emergency Management Flight. "I try to let the man or woman sitting in the chair convince me that he or she has the leadership skills and the overall knowledge that I looked to my chiefs for when I was a new Airman."

Hart, who said he was quite nervous during his time before the board, said he believes the preparation process for the board also helps a person to become a chief.

"I made a review of my own career and thought about the leadership I had and the things I did along the way," he said. "It made me really think about what is good leadership."