Atlantic Stripe bolsters NCO development

Story and photos by Senior Airman Devin Boyer
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Phillip L. Easton, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief, speaks to NCOs during the Atlantic Stripe course at the USAFE Conference Center May 9 on Ramstein. Easton shared experiences he had with past supervisors and encouraged the NCOs to strive to learn from challenges.

Sixty technical sergeants and staff sergeants participated in the first ever Atlantic Stripe course, built to enhance NCO development, May 9 to 12.

More than 40 Air Force members across multiple organizations at Ramstein teamed to build the curriculum for the course in an overarching effort to strengthen NCOs’ toolkits.

The curriculum includes teaching self-awareness, team building, networking and military etiquette.

“They will learn about some manpower techniques, how to do feedbacks more effectively and how to communicate more effectively,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kiyon Buckley, 86th Communications Squadron special missions flight chief and Atlantic Stripe chairman.

Buckley said he and his team wanted to make the course engaging.

“We wanted all of our briefers to do more interactive, more video and more out-of-the-box methods instead of just ‘death by PowerPoint,” said Buckley.

Mentors shared their experiences as leaders and supervisors with the NCOs to enhance the learning experience.

Chief Master Sgt. Phillip L. Easton, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief, also had some advice for the NCOs.

“Make sure your subordinates know that you care,” he said. “No one cares what you know until they know that you care about them.”

The classroom isn’t the only setting for the NCOs in Atlantic Stripe.

“We have a course on military etiquette and we’re going to do an actual formal dinner,” said Buckley. “They’re going to go to a place downtown dressed up in their business casual and practice hosting distinguished visitors.”

The purpose of the dinner is to put the NCOs in a real-life situation they may encounter in the future. Buckley said they will practice setting tables for a formal event and learn about propriety when having conversations with distinguished visitors.

When asked about the difference between Atlantic Stripe aand NCO Academy, Airman Leadership School or other Professional Military Education, Buckley said, “We can be extremely agile. In order to get a PME’s curriculum changed, that could take a few years.”

Buckley said Atlantic Stripe is malleable in the sense that it can change every year to improve the outcome.

The team plans to have a 30-day, 60-day and 90-day follow up between the mentors and NCOs to see how effective the training was.

“All of the feedback that the attendees give us will help develop the future Atlantic Stripe in 2018,” said Senior Master Sgt. Karen Cullen, Atlantic Stripe co-chair.

“We’re hoping to get the spark of leadership back into the NCOs that way they can pass it on to their Airmen and peers,” said Cullen.

Maj. Gen. Timothy M. Zadalis, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa vice commander, speaks to NCOs during the Atlantic Stripe course at the USAFE Conference Center May 9 on Ramstein. Zadalis gave the NCOs statistics on current office climates.