For the past two years, a central focal point for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa is increasing readiness. Exercises with Mission-Oriented Protective Posture gear, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives material defense training have become regularly integrated into the Master Scenario Event List since 2018.
“Typically, training for the readiness exercises are delegated to staff sergeants and below,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Selman, USAFE-AFAFRICA CBRNE functional manager.
But for Selman teaching is a passion that goes beyond rank. “As a father of four and grandfather to one, I’m constantly teaching in some form and it’s something I’ve been fortunate enough to integrate into my Air Force career.”
No stranger to military life, Selman was born in Great Falls, Montana, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, and has served for the past 27 years.
His father, a retired Air Force veteran, worked in missile security when Selman was born and then moved his family to Dallas, Texas, to finish his career as a recruiter.
Selman joined at 18 to become a law enforcement specialist to carry on the tradition of service. After one enlistment, though, the Air Force began a reduction in manning within his career field, forcing him to be reclassified into another Air Force specialty. This unexpected shift placed Selman into what was called readiness, which was not on his list of choices.
“At the time, I wasn’t excited about it,” Selman said. “I’d never heard of Readiness and didn’t know what I’d be doing. However, it was still a job and I was a young senior airman with a wife and child that I had to take care of, so I had to take it.”
The readiness career field, now known as Emergency Management, encompasses two core mission sets: all-hazards emergency management and counter weapons of mass destruction consequence management. In short, how to prepare for and respond to both natural and manmade disasters. And at the core of these is education and training.
“It was actually a blessing in disguise,” Selman said. “I really wound up enjoying the career field and it’s afforded me opportunities that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. I was able to get a Bachelor’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management and a number of certifications that will translate really well to civilian life once I retire.”
Just as Selman felt he was new to the career field, a majority of currently serving USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen weren’t exactly sure what Emergency Management’s role would be when exercises ramped back up in 2018.
At that time, a study found that 96% of USAFE Airmen had been in the Air Force for 10 years or less when the Air Force stopped implementing Operational Readiness Inspections in 2010. This left roughly 4% of USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen with ORI experience.
The Air Force used ORIs to evaluate a wing and its ability to fulfill mission-essential tasks while supporting contingency operations.
Senior noncommissioned officers and higher ranking officers became critical figureheads in re-implementing their knowledge through training and guidance when readiness exercises resumed in 2018.
“I saw it as an opportunity to do what I enjoy most: passing on knowledge to the next generation,” Selman said. “Our Airmen are the Air Force’s core — it’s future — and in order for them to thrive, they need knowledge.”
Promoting to chief master sergeant in 2018 six weeks after arriving at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, provided Selman the
opportunity to step into a new role in a new location as USAFE-AFAFRICA CBRNE functional manager at Ramstein Air Base.
However, the new role wouldn’t deter Selman from doing what he loved as he found ways to continue leading through instruction. So when the opportunity to teach a CBRNE defense course popped up recently, Selman immediately jumped on it.
“It’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed. I want to pass along the knowledge and experience I have, and the passion I have for it,” Selman said.
CBRNE defense training, which occurs every 18 months, teaches Airmen the necessary skills to properly don MOPP gear while executing critical survival and survey operations in a chemically-contested environment.
“In a field with only five chiefs, all at separate major commands, I think it’s really cool that new Airmen get the chance to interact with him and learn from him,” said Master Sgt. Jacob Sargent, USAFE-AFAFRICA emergency management and CBRNE program manager. “His career path has been extremely diverse, and that really pays dividends when opportunities like this present themselves.”
Before retirement, Selman takes advantage of every opportunity to teach CBRNE courses.
“We are training our replacements,” Selman said. “It’s our responsibility as leaders, NCOs, and SNCOs to make sure our Airmen have that knowledge and they see us with that passion.”