Brush up on your enlisted vocabulary, airmen: There’s a new duty title in town.

Starting Oct. 1, senior noncommissioned officers currently known as superintendents will ditch that job title to go by “senior enlisted leader,” according to an Aug. 4 Air Force memo signed by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown.

“This was a change that the boss and I thought made sense,” Bass wrote on Facebook Aug. 5. “The change from superintendent to senior enlisted leader (SEL) correctly identifies the key leadership roles we expect of those assigned to our detachment, squadron and group command teams.”

Superintendent jobs are special positions awarded to senior NCOs based on their grade, an installation’s needs and how well someone might perform in the job. They take on management duties, mentorship and career counseling, and other personnel and logistics issues within a unit.

The title change applies to the most senior enlisted leader in a unit, regardless of rank, Bass added on Facebook. That could mean that a technical sergeant holds the post in one detachment, while a chief master sergeant holds it in another.

“Enlisted evaluations which closed out prior to the effective date will not be modified due to this change,” the memo states.

The Air Force argues the move will help standardize the senior enlisted role across each of the armed services and to other countries, improving how the branches work together and clarifying what airmen can offer. It could also clear up confusion in units that have multiple superintendents with different duties.

“It may seem small, but it’s a small change that makes a difference,” Bass said. “We can’t just think Air Force, we have to think joint, so we’re integrated and aligned to win the future fight.”

Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.

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