Taking a step outside of their AFSC: Military Training Leader
By Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 18, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Air Force technical school can be a wide awakening for young Airmen taking their first steps in their military careers outside of Basic Military Training. For these Airmen, adapting to life outside of formations, set eating schedules and being in uniform 24 hours a day for nearly 60 days, can be a culture shock.
Military training leaders are non-commissioned officers vectored through the Developmental Special Duty program to assist transitioning Airmen between BMT and their first duty stations.
“MTLs facilitate Airmen’s transition from the strenuous, micro-managed, task-driven and time-restrictive environment of BMT to the active duty Air Force environment,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lozada, 66th Training Squadron MTL. “Part of our duties as MTLs is to enforce the transition program which gradually gives Airmen their freedoms back when they are capable of handling them while consecutively fulfilling the Air Force’s needs.”
Lozada works closely with Tech. Sgt. Joshua Pagel, 66th TRS MTL flight chief, three other MTLs and one Airman dorm leader who all support the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school located at Fairchild. They maintain accountability for an average of 150 students at a time, nine Air Force Specialty Codes and seven different courses associated with SERE training.
“We work with aircrew, pararescue, linguists, combat controllers, SERE specialists and international students,” Pagel said. “Summer or winter, pouring rain or the hottest sunshine, these Airmen are outside surviving; I think it’s pretty awesome. I have a lot of respect for the SERE career field because it doesn’t matter what it is, they’re all extremely motivated.”
Approximately 90% of the Airmen who go through the 66th TRS dormitory are there for less than 30 days, making accountability of all these moving pieces essential.
Due to the limited time these students spend at Fairchild, they’re not required to in-process to any base agencies, leaving majority of the administrative duties to the 66th TRS MTLs. This includes procuring flights when departing, coordinating orders, alleviating financial issues, assisting with paperwork associated with dependents and ensuring medical records are up-to-date.
The MTL position is a four-year controlled tour and is available via DSD for staff sergeant through senior master sergeants. Applicants must have demonstrated leadership abilities during previous assignments and must have the ability to lead and have empathetic understanding of the problems young Airmen away from home in a new environment may experience.
“When I enlisted in the military, I wanted to do something that made a difference, helped people and made me feel good about myself and my career,” Pagel said. “This job has given me the opportunity to make a difference by mentoring Airmen, sharing my experiences and helping them grow as leaders.”
In addition, special duty positions give Airmen the experience of trying something new and challenging. Airmen are able to gain a new understanding on the happenings of the Air Force and provide them with new perspectives and valuable information on becoming a better Airmen, leader and supervisor.