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Air Force mentoring 101: An introduction

Westover Air Reserve Base welcome sign at the main gate entrance. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA. Kelly Galloway)

Westover Air Reserve Base welcome sign at the main gate entrance. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA. Kelly Galloway)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Mentoring is crucial to the mission and success of the Air Force. It is the process of showing younger Airmen how to succeed and become the leaders of tomorrow.

However, the idea of mentoring means different things to different people. Rank, age, perception, background, experiences (both good and bad) and many other factors shape our views on what mentoring is and how it's done.

In the Air Force, mentoring is the relationship between an experienced troop and a developing Airman, where the more experienced is a trusted teacher and counselor for the less experienced. And while the role of mentor is "assigned" to supervisors, Airmen are free to seek career advice and professional development counsel from other potential mentors
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Mentoring isn't just about job performance, either. It also includes career guidance, technical and professional development, leadership training, Air Force history and heritage, core values and the many other areas of an Airman's life.

"Successful mentoring of our Airmen is a strategic imperative... Mentors provide the tools to allow individuals to achieve their professional and personal goals. After all, it takes 10 years to replace an Airman who separates after serving for 10 years," said Col. Greg Urtso, Directorate of Force Development Diversity Operations.

A good place to start mentoring is with your own subordinates. In addition to thinking about how you can guide them in their Air Force career, you can do the follow formal steps to set them on the road to success:

· Perform an initial feedback review within 60 days of supervision for new subordinates, and a midterm review thereafter

· Use AF Forms 931 (AB-TSgt), AF Form 932 (MSgt-CMSgt), AF Form 724 B (Lt-Capt), and AF Form 724A (Maj-Col) to guide you in the feedback process

· Conduct feedback sessions in a private, face-to-face environment and allow for two way communication.

For more information on the mentoring process, review AFI 36-3401 on www.e-publishing.af.mil.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles from the Human Resource Development Council on the importance of mentoring in the Air Force. SMSgt. Robitalle and TSgt Elliot are assigned to the 439th Force Support Squadron.