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FTAC: First stop for incoming Airmen

Airmen participate in a group exercise during the First Term Airmen Course at the Rushmore Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 22, 2018. . The FTAC course is a mandatory, weeklong program that is packed with professional development guidance, life-skills briefings and visits from base agencies to aid new Airmen with getting their careers started. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

Airmen participate in a group exercise during the First Term Airmen Course at the Rushmore Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 22, 2018. . The FTAC course is a mandatory, weeklong program that is packed with professional development guidance, life-skills briefings and visits from base agencies to aid new Airmen with getting their careers started. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

First-term Airmen participate in a group discussion during the First Term Airmen Course at the Rushmore Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 22, 2018. The FTAC course is a mandatory, weeklong program that is packed with professional development guidance, life-skills briefings and visits from base agencies to aid new Airmen with getting their careers started. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

First-term Airmen participate in a group discussion during the First Term Airmen Course at the Rushmore Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 22, 2018. The FTAC course is a mandatory, weeklong program that is packed with professional development guidance, life-skills briefings and visits from base agencies to aid new Airmen with getting their careers started. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- After spending eight and a half weeks in Air Force Basic Military Training, and several months in technical school, some first-term Airmen arrive at their first duty stations still in trainee mode.

The First Term Airmen Course is geared toward preparing incoming, first-term Airmen for their jump from the structured world of training to the more flexible world of the operational Air Force.

FTAC is a mandatory, weeklong program that was developed by the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence. The course is packed with professional development guidance, life-skills briefings and visits from base agencies to aid new Airmen in getting started with their careers.

“So far [FTAC] has helped me to understand how to professionally communicate with people,” said Airman 1st Class Branson Bolden, a 28th Security Forces Squadron defender and FTAC student. “I feel that [FTAC] will help [build me] professionally.”

Thirteen hours are dedicated to Airmanship 300 - the professional development portion of the course.

“The purpose of Airmanship 300 is to reinforce core values, develop teamwork and followership, and to promote a ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ mentality,” said Master Sgt. Jason W. Pranzo, a 28th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor.

Pranzo is responsible for the FTAC program at Ellsworth AFB and prides himself on providing Airmen with the basic understanding of what is expected of them in the operational Air Force.

There is a section committed to explaining the Enlisted Force Structure – where Airmen learn the different roles and responsibilities that coincide with each rank. Additionally, they receive a glimpse of the enlisted evaluation system and feedbacks.

According to Pranzo, these are things that assist Airmen with the transition from the regimented training world to the more fluid operational world – where Airmen are responsible for their lives and actions.

For many incoming Airmen, the Air Force is their first experience away from home. The Air Force decided that portions of FTAC should be devoted to cultivating healthy and positive lifestyles.

A representative from health promotion comes out to talk about nutrition, and there is a mock physical training test. A portion of the course is devoted to financial management and a briefing is given by specialists from the Airman & Readiness Center. Representatives from the base education office come to speak to the Airmen about Community College of the Air Force degrees and ways to pursue education goals. An entire day is also devoted to resiliency training.

“I don’t know what more they need to get started,” said Pranzo.

FTAC gives first-term Airmen the tools and knowledge to take control of their careers and succeed in the Air Force.

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