AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates –
Approximately 40 master and technical sergeants from across the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing completed a 3-day training seminar providing an overview of the duties and responsibilities of an Air Force first sergeant. The training concluded Feb. 4, 2022.
The training was provided by the 10 Airmen who are currently serving as first sergeants across the Wing, which is based at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Master Sgt. Esteban Mejia, an Air Force Reservist from the 433rd Airlift Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was one of those who deployed to Al Dhafra as the first sergeant of the 380th Expeditionary Communications Squadron.
The course provided training and insights on the relationships between first sergeants and commanders, the first sergeants’ role in maintaining good order and discipline and a number of the administrative tasks assigned to first sergeants.
During the course, the students received information from the wing commander and command chief and a number of specialized agencies across the wing including chaplains, judge advocates, equal opportunity, sexual assault prevention and response and others.
Approximately 2,000 Airmen are assigned to Al Dhafra Air Base. The students in the class also included several noncommissioned officers from Army units also assigned to the base.
While a number of the students who took the informal training stated a desire to serve as a first sergeant in the future, others hoped to be able to provide back-up to their first sergeant – a position informally known as the “under shirt’ as Air Force first sergeants are typically referred to as the “First Shirt.” Others in the class stated that they attended strictly seeking to become better supervisors and Air Force leaders.
“The first sergeant is an important part of the leadership triad in any Air Force unit,” said Master Sgt. Esteban Mejia, an Air Force Reservist from the 433rd Airlift Wing in Texas who deployed to Al Dhafra as the first sergeant of the 380th Expeditionary Communications Squadron. “This class was meant to expose the students to some of the duties and hopefully many of them will take the next step and look into becoming a first sergeant in the future.”
To earn the diamond device that first sergeants wear in their chevrons requires completion of a formal Air Force school, Mejia said the symposium provides the students with the knowledge necessary to serve as an "under shirt."