New York Air National Guard Hosts Senior Enlisted Symposium

  • Published
  • By Mr. Alexander Rector

More than 150 New York Air National Guard noncommissioned officers (NCOs) attended a two-day senior enlisted symposium at the National Veterans Resource Center at Syracuse University, May 29 and 30, 2024.

During the symposium, enlisted leaders from all 5 New York Air National Guard Wings and the Eastern Air Defense Sector attended breakout sessions and panel discussions that focused on current challenges facing the National Guard such as recruiting, retention, job satisfaction, and empowering junior leaders.

The event kicked off with remarks from Brig. Gen. Michael Bank, the newly appointed commander of the New York Air National Guard (NYANG). Bank, who served as the commander of the 106th
Rescue Wing from 2015 to 2020, replaced recently retired Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, who has led the NYANG since 2022. “In order for us to get to where we need to go as an organization, we have to let our Airmen execute their jobs,” said Bank. “That’s the culture we need to have in the Air National Guard, to empower our Airmen and NCOs to go out there and get after it.”

The highlight of the event was a presentation from retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Andy Worshek, a best-selling author and keynote speaker for Intent-Based Leadership International.

Worshek who retired after 24 years of service, is featured prominently in the best-selling leadership book “Turn the Ship Around,” by retired U.S. Navy Capt. L. David Marquet. The book popularized a philosophy of intent-based leadership, which was pioneered on the U.S. Navy
Attack Submarine USS Santa Fe.

Intent based leadership allows leaders to de-centralize decision making and empowers leadership at every-level of an organization’s hierarchy.
“I’d like you to close your eyes for a minute and image a workplace where people are happier, healthier, and they like coming to work,” said Worshek, speaking to the conference attendees “That’s a workplace where everybody knows what they’re doing, and nobody needs to be told what to do. They love what they do, and they love being with the people they work with. That’s an intent-based leadership environment.”

During Marquet’s time in command of the Santa Fe, Worshek served as the vessel’s sonar chief. The two-coauthored “The Turn the Ship Around Workbook.” During Maqruet’s command of the Santa Fe, it went from being one of the worst rated submarines in the pacific fleet to
achieving among the highest retention and operational standings in the U.S. Navy.

“He brought up a lot of goods points and I learned a lot of stuff,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson, the NYANG senior enlisted leader. “Someday we’re going to go and preparing your replacement and empowering them and trusting them to do the right thing is essential. I hope the senior leaders in the room learn that it’s important for leaders at every level to empower the people below us to prepare them to eventually take our place.”

Though the target audience of the symposium, were senior enlisted NCOs and those assigned to a first sergeant billet, NCOs from every grade were in attendance. “I strive to be a first sergeant so I try to attend any of these leadership conferences that I possibly can,” said Tech Sgt. Brian Mathews, a C-130 Hercules crew chief assigned to the 106th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing “I feel that it is a great opportunity to learn some things to bring back to our home squadrons.”

Mathews, a prior service Marine, is currently assigned as an additional-duty first sergeant for his squadron and is passionate about taking care of Airmen and helping them with their issues. “I never try to be the person who knows everything,” said Mathews. “But I strive to be the person who knows who to go to or what resources to turn to when helping an Airman with a problem.”

The Air National Guard is one of the two reserve components of the United States Air Force alongside the Air Force Reserve. National Guard Airmen, unlike members of the Air Force Reserve, also respond to state domestic operations at the direction of the governor.

With a strength of 5,807 Airmen, the New York Air National Guard is the largest state Air National Guard organization in the country. New York Air National Guard’s five wings operate 45 aircraft, ranging from the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft to the C-17 Globemaster III
strategic airlifter.

New York Air National Guard senior leaders pose for a photo while attending a senior enlisted symposium at the National Veterans Resource Center at Syracuse University, May 29, 2024. During the event attendees conducted breakout sessions and panel discussions focusing on recruitment, retention, and organizational management. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Alexander Rector)