SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – There are leaders, and then there are leaders who lead leaders. Sheppard AFB has kicked off a new program called the Master Military Training Leader Program to identify and put those individuals out front for the purpose of the continued training and mentorship of their peers.
With only 10% considered for this distinction at any given time, the 82nd and 782nd Training Groups were the first here to implement the program distinguishing and rewarding those who exemplify the best of the best Military Training Leaders currently serving in their ranks.
What does it mean to be the best of the best?
According to the Master MTL Program list of expectations, it is one who is a professional in all areas of military standards; is an elite of the MTL corps; a leader among other MTLs; exhibits the highest characteristics of ethics, morality and integrity; and fully supports the missions, traditions and esprit de corps of Air Force Military Standards.
“In order to become a Master Military Training Leader, you must be an MTL for at least 18 months and have at least 12 months left on Sheppard. You must also be recognized by your commanders as someone who is superior among the rest in areas like professionalism, Air Force core values, consistency in day-to-day leadership skills, and can produce outstanding results in all areas of training,” said Chief Master Sergeant William Gruenes, 782nd Training Group, military training superintendent.
“The program is proficiency based and run in an elimination style competition format,” he added.
Over a period of four days, Master MTL candidates were evaluated in their knowledge and expertise of dress and appearance, drill, room inspection procedures, open ranks procedures, physical training evaluations, and the delivery of a professional development lesson for Airmen.
If a candidate does not achieve an overall outstanding evaluation on any of these subjects, they do not get the opportunity to move on and are eliminated from the competition.
If a candidate receives outstanding marks on all evaluations, they are then able to move into the final phase of the competition where they appear in front of a board and are tested on their general knowledge and their commitment to mentor other MTLs.
Tech. Sgt. Charlotte Pajatin of the 782nd TRG, and Staff Sgts. Arthur Shook and Anthony Hayes of the 82nd TRG are the first ever Master MTLs in the history of Sheppard to be awarded the brand new and highly regarded dark blue and royal blue aiguillette, a cord that is worn on the left shoulder with all uniforms.
The cord not only symbolizes elite status amongst their peers, but also comes with a great deal of responsibility and expectations.
“There is always room for improvement and this experience has shown me that,” Hayes said. “I am not just a Military Training Leader anymore, I am an expert in this field. When I think of being a Master MTL and wearing this cord on my arm, I know it shows I have achieved something great, but I also have a much higher bar to set. It’s to be that guy that will show the way and help improve what we have built and what we are trying to build here at Sheppard. I am held to a much higher standard now and there will be a lot more expectations of me.”
Expectations, among regular MTL duties, will include things like Master MTL meeting participation, being a mentor to personnel currently serving as MTLs, developing the next generation of those who will follow in their footsteps and the upholding of professional standards at all times.
“It is important to have this growth opportunity and progression here. I see these new Master Military Training Leaders in a different tier now,” said Senior Master Sgt. Lacey Stokes, 82nd Training Group, military training superintendent. “They’re going to be charged with not necessarily having the Airmen as their primary focus, but their peers are now that focus. We don’t have a lot of roles designated in leadership within our MTL flights currently, but now with Master Military Training Leaders, we do.”
The training groups at Sheppard plan to hold Master MTL competitions quarterly and will be announced within their commands as they approach or as openings become available.
“We are excited to now have this a part of our training and leadership here and look forward to identifying and adding more Master Military Training Leaders to our training groups,” Stokes said. “It’s an awesome program which was definitely needed and long overdue.”