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By Heather Heiney, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 26, 2019
Senior Airman John Gillen, 50th Security Forces Squadron defender and current Airman Leadership School student, hands a clue to ALS instructors during an educational game called Joint Warfighter Amazing Race Aug. 9, 2019 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Enlisted developmental special duties like ALS instructor offer unique leadership roles and give Airmen the opportunity to mentor and mold future leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)
Staff Sgt. Amanda Scarpino, left, noncommissioned officer in charge of preventive dentistry at the 21st Medical Group dental clinic on Peterson Air Force Base and Staff Sgt. Megan Luscier, 21st Medical Squadron NCOIC of instrument processing at Schriever AFB, pose for a photo Aug. 8, 2019 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Scarpino and Luscier were recently selected to be Peterson AFB Airman Leadership School instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)
After basic military training and technical school the work an Airman does day-to-day becomes their primary focus for years. Completing an enlisted developmental special duty gives Airmen the opportunity to step away from their career field for a period of time and get a fresh perspective on the bigger Air Force picture.
Staff Sgt. Megan Luscier, 21st Medical Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of instrument processing at Schriever Air Force Base, and Staff Sgt. Amanda Scarpino, NCOIC of preventive dentistry at the 21st Medical Group dental clinic on Peterson AFB, will soon have the opportunity to attain that fresh perspective when they begin their DSD assignments as instructors at the Peterson AFB Airman Leadership School.
“I wanted to apply for a special duty because I’ve been in my career for so long. I’ve almost hit ten years this summer, so I’m kind of at that point where I want to step out and do a little more,” Luscier said. “I do plan on retiring so I want to do a little more for the big Air Force picture.”
Scarpino said that she wanted to apply for a DSD because she really enjoys mentoring Airmen and she wanted to step outside of her career field and do something different.
“As much as I love cleaning teeth, and I really do, you don’t get a whole lot of leadership opportunities,” Scarpino said. “You’re pretty much stuck to your chair and this is going to give me a chance to really get those interpersonal communication and leadership skills.”
The Air Force currently has 10 special duties that have been identified as enlisted DSD positions due to their unique leadership roles and the Airman’s responsibility to mentor and mold future leaders.
Those DSDs include career assistance advisor, military training instructor, military training leader, U.S. Air Force Academy military training NCO, Airman and Family Readiness Center NCO, first sergeant, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, Airman dorm leader, enlisted accessions recruiter and professional military education instructor.
According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Air Force implemented a biannual nomination process in 2017 that allows commanders to nominate their best staff, technical and master sergeants to fill these critical positions. Typically, DSD assignment matching and selection occur between April and September, with start dates between October and May of the following year.
The first step in the process is the delivery of an eligibility notification letter from AFPC that says an Airman meets the basic requirements and that the nomination window is now open. Once the Airman has been nominated and receives an assignment notification, they are contacted by the appropriate DSD office of primary responsibility with additional instructions. Finally, they must submit a special duty application package no later than 30 days from assignment notification.
Master Sgt. Christopher Waldrip, Peterson ALS commandant, said he thinks DSDs are beneficial to Airmen because while they’re the technical experts in their field, DSD positions can provide them with a new perspective.
“We get kind of an umbrella over us in our functional area and we get used to operating within that domain,” he said. “Getting the chance to work in a DSD takes Airmen out of their comfort zone a little bit, and exposes them to a whole other aspect of the Air Force.”
For more information about DSDs, the application process and a listing of current requirements, visit https://www.afpc.af.mil/Assignment/Developmental-Special-Duty/.