Preparing for next rank makes successful Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Anselmo
  • 56th Security Forces Squadron
As Airmen we have many responsibilities and duties we must carry out in accordance with our jobs. According to AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, our responsibilities are as follows: junior enlisted Airmen initially focus on adapting to military requirements, achieving occupational proficiency and learning how to become highly productive members of the Air Force.

In this tier, Airmen prepare for increased responsibilities. They must ensure they are trained, qualified, ready to deploy and can operate in an extraordinary manner while maintaining home station readiness. Junior enlisted Airmen also continue to broaden their technical skills and pursue professional development through on- and off-duty education.

This is just a small fraction of the duties and responsibilities we have as junior enlisted Airmen. Being an Airman in today's Air Force is only going to get tougher. Our duties as Airmen are only going to increase, and our job proficiency will surpass what is expected of us currently. We all have heard of the force shaping that is currently taking place. If you have just done the minimum to get by, I would prepare for the change that is coming.

Personally, in my shop I know of a few Airmen that I look up to. The qualities I see in them are the same qualities I hope to see in myself. They are able to learn and adapt, and they can lead and follow. They serve as a point of contact for any questions and issues and are always there for their fellow airmen when needed. If they screw up, they take the blame for their actions and help others learn from their mistakes. They are flexible and soak up all the information they can from their superiors realizing that one day they will fill their shoes. They do all this while also following all the requirements AFI 36-2618 lays out.

To me, it shouldn't matter if you're an E-1 or an E-4. You should be preparing to move into the next rank by taking on these new expectations. Airmen first class should be acting like senior airmen, and senior airmen should be acting like and preparing to become staff sergeants. If we do this, the transition to the next enlisted rank should be easier. Also carrying the new responsibilities should be a breeze, because you have been stepping up and accepting some of these same responsibilities in your previous rank.

We all took the same oath when we enlisted. We swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution. We swore to live by our core values of "integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do." We shouldn't just meet these core values but exceed them in an extraordinary manner. Being in the Air Force is a privilege we have earned as Airmen just as many have before us.

Right now as Airmen, we shouldn't look at things as just a set of chevrons on our arm or a regular uniform. Instead, we should look at this experience as an extraordinary opportunity. Fulfill this opportunity to the fullest and show other Airmen what it takes to be in the world's greatest Air Force.