By Mr. David B Crozier (TRADOC)July 7, 2009
FORT BLISS, TX, July 7, 2009 - Air Force Master Sgt. Danny Alltop, is just days away from making history - in the Army that is. Alltop will graduate July 10 from the U.S. Army's First Sergeant Course taught at Fort Bliss, Texas, and thus go into the history books as the first airman to do so.
"It means a lot," said Alltop who thanked Sergeant Major Hightower Smith, enlisted advisor to the enlisted corps at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and Chief Master Sergeant Jose Guzman, senior enlisted advisor at DEOMI, for giving him the opportunity to attend.
"It says a lot about their confidence in me, in letting me come here and actually get through this course as well as having the opportunity to go back and share this experience with everybody else. It is just great and I am forever in their debt."
Alltop, an equal opportunity advisor for DEOMI, said the reason he wanted to attend the Army school was because of his current job and the idea that he wanted to get a better perspective of the Army.
"The majority of the individuals who we have assigned to DEOMI, as well as the students we have coming in, are from the Army," he said. "So I wanted to gain a better perspective of what they go through, what they need and how to better service them. It is paramount that an individual gain that perspective to better serve them."
Being an Air Force member attending an Army school does have some challenges, admits Alltop, but knowing the "lingo" was not one of them.
"I have been assigned to DEOMI for two years and I gained that perspective with the Army folks who are assigned there, so it was not tough at all," he said. "My biggest challenge - Initially it was getting the [Physical Training] down. In the Air Force we do PT a little bit different, so I trained on [Army PT] for 90 days before coming here as well as getting through some of the coursework."
Alltop explained that being Air Force, "We don't do some of the things that the Army first sergeants are assigned to do. To understand how they accomplish that mission and what they are responsible for was a challenge and that meant going home and studying at night and gaining that perspective so that I can come in the next morning and speak a little bit intelligently about it and to actually fit in with what was going on in the class."
Sgt. Maj. Ramzy Noel, Chief Instructor for the First Sergeant Course, said Alltop has brought a lot to the table in terms of experience and knowledge of Air Force missions.
"He brings in his skill sets into our classroom and shares with our Army exactly what it is they do in the Air Force in terms as to how they fight," Noel said. "That is an added benefit not only for the Air Force guys getting trained up on our field, but we get a chance to see what they do on a day-to-day basis in terms of how they fight their battle. So it has been a great experience."
He added that seeing an Air Force NCO take on Army PT was also great to see.
"It was great to see an Air Force guy out there doing what we do," he said. "In fact he passed his first Army physical fitness test during week one."
The Army First Sergeant Course is broken up into two phases. The first phase is distance learning with the second phase being the 15-day in-residence course taught at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. The resident course is taught on a 6-day training week with extended hours. The mission of the course is to educate senior noncommissioned officers to perform first sergeant duties, both tactical and garrison related, with battle focused emphasis on training, support of tactical operations, daily problem solving, Soldier's family care, and communications skills. In addition to Alltop, Noel said the course has had the participation of one Marine and 59 students from 10 different countries including: Macedonia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to name a few.
"That shows me we are moving in the right direction in terms of being able to reach out to other branches and international militaries," he said. "It shows the relevancy of our course."
As for Alltop, he has high hopes for being able to use what he has learned in the course.
"I will take an understanding of how Army folks deal with everyday issues as well as when it comes to the war effort. We have individuals who are coming back and becoming EOAs and the issues they have gone through; if I gain that perspective [through this course] I am better able to use that to get them assistance down the road," he said. "It is about taking care of people. I would recommend this for anyone. We are becoming more joint and if I can better understand how Sergeant Major Noel operates on a daily basis, that enables us to better get the mission done, and that's what it is all about, it's all about mission accomplishment."