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Developmental Special Duties: Stepping into Leadership

The role of a CAA is to advise Airmen on career progression, planning, monitor mandatory pay and benefits briefing programs, and conduct advertising and publicity programs.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amanda Smith-Taylor, 509th Force Support Squadron, serves as the Career Assistance Advisor at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The CAA is an advisor to the enlisted force on force management and professional enhancement. The role of a CAA is to advise Airmen on career progression, planning, monitor mandatory pay and benefits briefing programs, and conduct advertising and publicity programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

Airman Dorm Leaders are responsible for daily UH operations to include mentoring residents and assisting them in their adjustment to military life; ensuring residents comply with directives and military living standards.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Wade Meyer, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Unaccompanied Housing superintendent, serves as an Airman Dorm Leader at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Airman Dorm Leaders are responsible for daily UH operations to include mentoring residents and assisting them in their adjustment to military life; ensuring residents comply with directives and military living standards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dawn M. Weber)

FTAC provides a structured program to transition Airmen from a training environment to a mission-oriented environment.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mercedes McFerguson, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron, currently serves as the First Term Airman Course Non-commissioned officer in charge at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. FTAC NCOIC is not listed as a Developmental Special Duty, however it is a local hire career broadening opportunity available at Whiteman AFB. FTAC provides a structured program to transition Airmen from a training environment to a mission-oriented environment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Dawn M. Weber)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Identified as developmental due to their unique leadership roles, the Air Force has recognized 10 developmental special duties with more than 1,175 potential positions across the branch.

Here at Whiteman Air Force Base, there are several DSD positions available. Some of the positions include, Airman Dorm Leader, Career Assistance Advisor, Airman & Family Readiness Center non-commissioned officer in charge, Professional Military Education Instructor for Airman Leadership School, Protocol Superintendent, and First Sergeants.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amanda Smith-Taylor, 509th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor, said the Air Force has identified these special duties as Enlisted Developmental Positions due to the responsibility of those chosen to fill the roles to mentor and mold future leaders.

“In order to apply for a DSD, an Airman needs to be nominated by their leadership teams,” said Smith-Taylor. “Typically, staff, technical and master sergeants are nominated and a package will be created for the individual based on what is required for the position. Individuals selected for these positions can gain valuable leadership and mentorship skills to help themselves and other Airmen go further in their careers.”

As the CAA, Smith-Taylor has opportunities to meet with Airmen from all career fields and ranks and help guide them in the direction they want their Air Force career to go.

“The individual will gain a perspective outside of their career field that sometimes refreshes their commitments to the Air Force and positively impacts others with their own commitment,” said Smith-Taylor. “Many times, stepping out of your comfort zone and into a special duty can help an Airman gain professional and personal development.”

U.S. Air Force MSgt Wade Meyer, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron unaccompanied housing superintendent, stepped out of his career field as a flight line maintainer to serve as an Airman Dorm Leader.

“The DSD will not only benefit an Airman professionally, but it’s going to help them personally,” said Meyer. “There’s going to be experiences and networking outside of what they’ve been doing previously that will prove to be invaluable down the road.”

Meyer explained that the Air Force needs individuals who have mastered their craft, trained others in their career field and could benefit from branching outside their norm.

“I tell my Airmen to really dig into their primary Air Force Specialty Code and take initiative,” said Meyer. “The Air Force needs those Airmen applying for DSDs.”

In 2017, the Air Force updated requirements for DSDs allowing for more opportunities for Airmen to participate in special duties. The changes included opening military training instructor opportunities to staff sergeants and lowering the physical training score for all DSD and technical training instructor positions to the Air Force standard of 75.

In addition to DSDs Whiteman AFB also has local hire Special Duty opportunities, such as the Installation Base Honor Guard Program Manager and Inspector General Superintendent. Much like First Term Airmen Course NCOIC and the Command Chief’s executive, these positions are not classified as DSDs but, do provide career broadening opportunities.

Developmental special duty and special duty qualifications are outlined in the special duty catalog. Additional information about specific rank requirements, nomination eligibility criteria, process and other specifics can be found on myPers under Special Duty Assignment Programs on the Active Duty: Enlisted Assignments Home Page or select “Active Duty Enlisted” from the dropdown menu and search DSD.