Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series on FTAC. Part one introduced the changes to the courses. Next week, part two will focus on the instructor’s perspective of the course.
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. | With all the military jargon that is thrown around, FTAC, or First Term Airmen Course, is somewhere in the mix. For many, this course is just another box to check on the in-processing checklist; however, recently it has developed into a vital part of the Profession of Arms.
“We need to focus on developing the next generation of enlisted leaders,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “This starts in basic training, but has to be deliberate and continuous throughout an Airman’s career. These courses are the next step in the evolution of professional development for our enlisted force.”
On July 10, 2017, the first set of students entered the doorways of the revamped FTAC class at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Since then, four classes, with a total of 98 Airmen, have graduated from the course.
“The major change to FTAC was the implementation of Airmanship 300,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Robinson, the FTAC NCO in charge. “While our first-term Airmen still receive briefings during the course, 13 hours have been arranged for Airmanship 300 to be incorporated.”
This implementation is just the third part in a new series of professional development. As soon as Airmen graduate from Basic Military Training (BMT) they go through Airmanship 100, more commonly known as Airmen’s Week. Following this, Airmen complete Airmanship 200, which is taught during technical training.
These courses are designed to transition Airmen from the BMT environment to a professional setting, where they are allowed to think critically and differentiate between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing the right thing.
“Developing Air Force personnel with a professional mindset, character and core values is required to succeed today and well in the future,” said Robinson. “By providing 13 hours of professionalism training in FTAC, we are putting first-term Airmen into the mission mindset and creating a positive environment to further develop their warrior ethos. We do this by reinforcing lessons they learned from BMT and technical training.”
These 13 hours are split up into two topics: four hours are dedicated to the “Enhancing Human Capital” lessons and nine hours are set aside for “What Now, Airman.” Each lesson presents ethical dilemma scenarios that allow the students to discuss what they would do in the situation.
For instance, during the “Enhancing Human Capital” session, Airmen discuss topics like the negative effects of entrenched thinking and miscommunication.
“Truthfully, I hope all first-term Airmen walk away from the FTAC with a solid understanding of how professionalism is the best way to bridge our core values of integrity, service and excellence into the Air Force mission of Fly, Fight and Win,” said Robinson.