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Air Force First Sergeants -- Is it Time for a Change?

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Updated February 11, 2005

Guide Note: In the Army and Marine Corps, "First Sergeant" is a rank (E-8) -- see Dedication to the First Sergeant. In the Air Force, First Sergeant is a special duty position, staffed by selected Senior NCOs in the grades of E-7, E-8, and E-9. One of my "Brother Shirts," Master Sergeant Terry Shaw, an Air Force First Sergeant stationed at Andersen AFB in Guam, has authored a position paper to propose that the Air Force First Sergeant positions be designated as a rank -- First Sergeant (E-7), Senior First Sergeant (E-8) and Chief First Sergeant (E-9).

It's a proposal that makes sense to me. With Terry's permission, below you can read a copy of his proposal:

PROPOSAL: I recommend that the title and rank of persons with the 8F000 duty identifier change their official title and rank from Master Sergeant (E-7), Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) and Chief Master Sergeant (E-9), to First Sergeant (E-7), Senior First Sergeant (E-8), and Chief First Sergeant (E-9). The rank on all paper work including ID Cards would reflect the new Ranks.

PRECEDENCE: The title of the Senior Enlisted Advisor was changed to Command Chief due to the Joint Operations integration with other services. This position was renamed to aid in the effectiveness of the Command Chief when dealing with the other services.

DISCUSSION: There are several changes in recent past that makes the position of First Sergeant require the title change.

As the Command Chief position the First Sergeants have an ever-increasing role in the deployments of our forces in a joint service environment. Anytime an ID card is displayed by a First Sergeant it identifies the person’s rank as a MSgt, SMSgt, or CMSgt. The title of the person is displayed as the same. An explanation is then required. We wear the Diamond however we have no documentation to show our position. Often an 8F000 First Sergeant is thought to be “acting” in this position until it is explained and comprehended.

In today’s new change to the First Sergeant Career field to a “Special Duty” This title change would enhance the position of the First Sergeant and aid in the focus of the First Sergeant to the First Sergeant position. E-7’s and E-8’s would be called First Sergeant and the Chief would be referred to as Chief.

The First Sergeant is already depicted as a difference in Manuals, PFE and Instructions. This change would simply be a change to the rank.

CONCLUSION: It is time for us to evolve into a joint world and to remove several obstacles to the effectiveness of a First Sergeant operating in today’s joint military.

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