Air University Catalog
The importance of the position of first sergeant has long been recognized in American military ranks. In 1778, at Valley Forge, Baron Von Steuben wrote in the Regulation for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, "The soldier having acquired that degree of confidence of his officers as to be appointed first sergeant of the company, should consider the importance of his officers; that the discipline of the company, the conduct of the men, their exactness in obeying orders, and the regularity of their manners, will in great measure depend on his vigilance. The first sergeant . . . is to be always in camp or quarters, to answer any call that may be made."
Through the years, persons selected for first sergeant duty primarily trained themselves in their duties and responsibilities, taking over where their predecessors left off. With increases in technology, advances in the complexity of administrative and legal procedures, and the need for improved human relations, the USAF saw that first sergeants needed to receive formal training.
The First Sergeant Course was established at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, in October 1973, and was renamed the USAF First Sergeant Academy in 1978. The academy remained at Keesler until June 1993 when it was moved to Maxwell AFB under the authority of order G-65 and aligned with the Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development.
Mission: Prepare selected active duty and Air National Guard senior non-commissioned officers to become more effective leaders and managers in their roles as first sergeants, capable of advising commanders in maintaining the health, morale, welfare, and discipline of assigned enlisted personnel during peacetime, time of crisis, and conflict.
Goals: Educates and train first sergeants in the diverse areas of responsibility, accountability, and discipline in which they will serve America's dynamic Air Force well into the next century.
The academy provides a course of instruction that keeps abreast of the administrative and operational changes affecting the first sergeant, utilizing various teaching methodologies including lectures, seminar discussions, and case studies. The academy also provides training in realistic scenarios enabling first sergeants to function within the demanding environment they frequently encounter.
The academy's curriculum is divided into five major areas: unit administration, dynamics of human resources, quality force management, deployment issues, and military justice.
Duration and Quota
The USAF First Sergeant Academy Course convenes for 20 days and has a quota of 56 students. The First Sergeant Academy Air National Guard Course is a 10-day course that has a quota of 32 students. Both courses have six offerings each fiscal year.
Prerequisites and Selection
Resident students must be volunteers for the special duty of first sergeant. They must be recommended by their commander and a review panel consisting of one field grade commander, two first sergeants of equal or higher grade who have at least one year of experience as a first sergeant, and the wing command chief master sergeant. Final selection rests with the major command command chief master sergeant.
Through affiliation of the Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development with the Community College of the Air Force, graduates of the USAF First Sergeant Academy Course who are enrolled in CCAF may receive 10 semester hours of credit toward an associate degree in the personnel administration program. Graduates of the First Sergeant Academy Air National Guard Course and the Additional Duty First Sergeant Symposium receive three semester hours and two semester hours, respectively, toward the same degree program.
Course graduates may apply for credit through the Registrar, CCAF/RRR, 130 W. Maxwell Blvd., Maxwell AFB AL 36112-6613. For further information, see the CCAF catalog and consult with your education service officer.
The USAF First Sergeant Academy has put forth several initiatives that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the academy and improve the quality of instruction. The highly acclaimed Additional Duty First Sergeant Symposium initiative has made a tremendous and positive impact on the field. Current planning projects that more than 2,000 senior NCOs and officers at 12 different continental United States and overseas locations will receive timely training in maintaining the health, morale, discipline, and welfare of the enlisted force.
In August of 1996, the academy began sending field surveys to alumni and their commanders. We believe this to be a vital part of our after-class evaluation of our effectiveness.
In 1999, the academy implemented a major revision of its curriculum to ensure maximum student centeredness. The primary focus of this revision was to ensure the curriculum's technical data and operational procedures were current and valid. The academy added 15 hours of deployment issues to the course of instruction to meet the changing career field needs of an Air Force that is deployed on an increasing tempo. The academy continually reviews teaching methodologies to provide and encourage maximum student participation in the learning process.
An ongoing upgrade of computer and audiovisual systems will allow greater use of computer-based training and standardize the method of lecture presentation by staff members and guest instructors. Self-improvement activities and renovation of facilities continues to improve the educational environment.