ANG broadens path to leadership positions Published Aug. 13, 2013 By Tech. Sgt. Emily F. Alley 190th Public Affairs FORBES FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Topeka, Kan. -- The Air National Guard is changing and formalizing the application process for enlisted members applying for commissions. The changes are ideal, in the opinion of SrA Elizabeth Pollard from the Logistics and Readiness Squadron, who aspires to someday be an officer. "The biggest challenge is not knowing what to do," she said. "When I ask, I get inconsistent answers." Pollard estimates that 60 percent of eligible Airmen she's spoken with have also expressed an interest in commissioning. That ambitious group is necessary, according to Master Sgt. Pam Lewis, a 190th ARW recruiter who offered briefings on the new program. "You have to have a constant flow of new potential officers," said Lewis. Commanders, as well as Airmen, benefit from clearly defined roads to leadership. Maj. Michael Robinson, Force Support Squadron Commander, attended Lewis' briefing on the new program. He believes it is important to help Airmen who want larger leadership roles. "The more paths we have open for super-talented members, the harder they'll strive for success," he said. "There's a path to chief and a path to colonel." Planning is the first step on thepath to become an officer. Certain college degrees and specific classes are required in order to enter fields like law and medicine. All members must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but be younger than age 35 to apply. After that, they must compile a packet that includes, among many things, a resume, fitness test and AFOQT scores. Completed packets may be turned in to Air National Guard recruiters, who submit them to the National Guard Bureau for approval. One common reason for rejection is due to an applicant's ethical lapses. For example, a DUI or other legal trouble, which may have been waived during enlistment, is less acceptable for an officer. "There have been instances," said Robinson, "when I've seen selections made, then something comes up. Someone has fought for an opportunity to be an officer, but has been disqualified." The new program can help commanders by offering them a pool of preapproved candidates. Once applicants have been approved by NGB, they may begin applying for wing positions. The program will also benefit Airmen. "It formalizes the way they express interest," added Robinson. "Their mentor, their supervisor and every selecting supervisor knows they're interested." Applicants can also seek positions outside their home unit. Rather than calling around to ask about positions, Airmen can see commissioning opportunities from all fields in all 54 states and territories. Ultimately, the program offers Airmen a range of options to put their talents to use and progress as leaders. It's a program designed for currently enlisted Airmen. "The two biggest benefits to prior enlisted officers is that they understand the culture- that's huge," said Robinson. "And you have evidence they are outstanding performers." "I want to do it," said Pollard. "I'm not ready now, but in the future." When the time comes, she's made sure she knows her options.