Senior Airman Below the Zone in-person panels are back!

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  • Air University Public Affairs

Team Maxwell-Gunter re-established in-person panels for Airman 1st Class promoting to Senior Airman under the Senior Airman Below the Zone program, August 2023.

Commanders and senior enlisted leaders submit their nominees under the Team Maxwell-Gunter BTZ Operations Order, which requires the nominees to have a 1206 nomination package and to meet the in-person panel.

“We re-established the in-person BTZ panels to drive more connection, confidence and evaluate the true total person concept, said Chief Master Sgt. Vaden, 42nd Air Base Wing command chief. “This is also a highly effective way of keeping leaders at all levels more “dialed-in” to teaching/coaching our junior airmen on the core Air Force subjects and instills pride in the profession of arms and is critical for the development of our enlisted Airmen!”

Vaden also said that after two consecutive quarters, our airmen crave this type of thing. They are excited to discuss what they do, how it connects to the mission, and where we are going as an Air Force! There have also been multiple examples from the airmen meeting the board on how much they appreciate their non-commissioned officers! Supervisors and even commanders learned something new about their airmen as they prepared them for the board … it gives people another reason for connection!

“I was nervous about the board being in person, but overall, it was an experience I was happy to have. Having the board allowed me to work on my public speaking skills while also preparing me for NCO or senior non-commissioned officer level meetings that could be formatted the same way, said Airman 1st Class Dhanae Richards, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Commander’s Support Staff technician for Detachment. “It’s a beneficial process that can help airmen improve their communication skills while also providing a training environment for them to feel more comfortable speaking to higher leadership.”

Bringing back the in-person BTZ board enhances the process to promote our enlisted force.

“Conducting an in-person BTZ board is a crucial step in the promotion process for our airmen. It allows deserving individuals to be considered for promotion before their peers. Additionally, the in-person BTZ board encourages open communication and promotes camaraderie among the candidates. It provides a platform for them to showcase their skills, achievements, and leadership abilities, said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Evans, 42nd Security Forces Squadron senior enlisted leader, operations flight chief, and panel member. “This can motivate individuals to excel in their performance and continually strive to improve themselves. Furthermore, the board members can provide valuable feedback to the candidates, which can help them develop personally and professionally.”

One of the nominees, Airman 1st Class Halle Keeley, 42nd Medical Group, Family Health Medical technician, expressed her in-person BTZ board experience.

“I believe having the opportunity to participate in an in-person BTZ board was beneficial. I appreciate the opportunity it gives to put a face with packages, allowing leadership to see the airman’s true authenticity. Being able to participate in this experience has contributed to my growth not only as an airman but as an individual, Keeley. “Going through the process to prepare helped me work on my confidence, taking ownership of my accomplishments, public speaking, and increasing my knowledge in the Air Force. Becoming complacent in our service as airmen in our career fields is easy. Still, because of going through this process, I have been reminded of why I joined and have a newfound motivation for my Air Force career.”

A two-time panel member, Chief Master Sgt. Select James Pollock, 26 Network Operations Squadron senior enlisted leader, shared his enthusiasm about having in-person BTZ boards.

“I’m a huge fan of the in-person board! Although the 1206 provides a good foundation of who the airman is, it doesn’t hold weight to having them right before you,” stated Pollock. “I feel like the process recognized the best all-around airmen.”