A Letter from an Air Force Element Leader

Last week we wrote to some trainees going through Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB. We received a reply from an Element Leader and thought that we would share it here, along with some information about what being an Element Leader entails.

The T.I.s will organize their Basic Training flight within the first couple of days. If you have shown any degree of leadership, or military knowledge (such as JROTC, or Civil Air Patrol, or Boy Scout Eagle), the T.I. may select you to become the Dorm Chief, or an Element Leader.

Basic training

Staff Sgt. Robert George, a TI at Lackland Air Force Base marches his unit following the issuance of uniforms and gear. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Sometimes (not always), T.I.’s will select older members of the flight for these leadership positions.

The Dorm Chief is the top “recruit-leader” in the flight. He/she is responsible to make sure that all orders, standard ops, and instructions are carried out correctly when the T.I.’s aren’t around.

To assist the Dorm Chief in this enormous responsibility, the flight is divided into “elements,” and an Element Leader is put in charge of each. The Element Leaders are responsible to the Dorm Chief to make sure that members of his/her element comply with orders and instructions. The bad news is that being a Dorm Chief or an Element Leader means that in addition to getting chewed out for things you do wrong, you get the added pleasure of getting chewed out for things that members of the flight (or your element) do wrong, as well.


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