When you arrive at Air Force technical school, one of the first things you'll notice is all those people running around with different color braided ropes over their left shoulders. You may be wondering what these ropes signify and when you might be assigned one.
The "ropes" are students who have special leadership responsibilities, or who perform special duties. Ropes can be green, yellow, blue, white, black, and many other colors and each color signifies a particular skill or responsibility.
The purpose of an Airman military training leader (MTL) is to improve Airman morale and enhance personal leadership skills. MTL are non-commissioned Airmen leaders who supervise or monitor students assigned to their squadron or placed under their charge.
A "Green Rope" is a "Bay Chief" or "Element Leader." Motivated students volunteer for this position. They are typically responsible for all Airmen assigned to a dormitory bay or element and are generally the ones who march the students to and from class.
The Yellow Rope is a "Floor Rope" or "Flight Leader." They are typically responsible for all Airmen assigned to a dormitory floor or flight. It's one step up from the Green Rope. They generally have greater responsibility and supervision authority. They are usually responsible to ensure the dormitories are maintained up to standards. Green Ropes who show exceptional leadership skills can be selected for this position.
It is the "top" student supervisor (shift leader). They are selected from Yellow Ropes who show exceptional leadership qualities. The "Red Ropes" usually work directly for the Chief and Senior MTL, and provide general supervision and guidance to the other student ropes. Red ropes are responsible for all Airmen assigned to a shift or squadron. It is the highest leadership position a student can obtain in a technical school.
Special Duty Ropes
There are three special duty positions for "student ropes:"
- White Rope - Chapel Guide
- Black Rope - Student Drill Teams and Special Activities Teams
- Silver or Blue & White - Drum and Bugle Corps
Selection of Airman Leaders
Airman leaders will be in the grade of Airman First Class and have a minimum 80% grade average. If a member has no grade average, they must be progressing satisfactorily to earn this status.
The assistant flight chief or higher will approve candidates to become Airman leaders after a review of their student records and personal interview. In making selections, the assistant flight chief considers the following:
- Disciplinary infractions
- Basic military training (BMT) report card
- Instructor recommendations
- Past leadership experience.
If no qualified Airmen First Class are assigned to the unit, Airman leaders may be selected from the ranks of Airman and, subsequently, Airman Basic.
The Airman leader program consists of three phases. Phase I is receiving and reviewing the Airman leader guide (ALG). Phase II consists of attending the Airman leader course (ALC) conducted by the military training school facility (MTSF), and Phase III is continuation training in the squadron.
The Assistant Flight Chief or higher will remove an Airman leader status from those who abuse their authority or fail to perform assigned duties. If an Airman leader's grade average falls below 80% or they fail to progress satisfactorily, they may continue in Airman leader status until the next block test or retest. Results from the block test or retest will determine if continued Airman leader status is awarded. Only an assistant flight chief or higher may reinstate an Airman into leader status.