The Alaska National Guard is preparing its future leaders to serve with integrity and professionalism.

The Guard is putting its mid-level enlisted soldiers and airmen through the Military Professionalism and Ethical Fitness Conference. The course was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. Alaska’s Guardsmen are the first to go through it, according to Chief Master Sgt. Paul Nelson, command senior enlisted member for the Guard.

Mid-level enlisted personnel are seen as the future of the force. Many will rise through the ranks during their careers.

When service members first join the military, basic training includes lessons in integrity, ethics and professionalism. This course is an effort to reinforce those values as the members take on leadership roles, shaping a healthy culture inside the organization.

“In our military today, in the United States, we are increasingly asking our enlisted force to do more and more, so to do that, we have to continually develop them as professionals,” Nelson said. “We all, regardless of where we sit in the organization, are leaders. Instead of followers following leaders, I would like to think of leaders training leaders-in-training.”

Nelson says the conference encourages Guardsmen to do the right thing, but also to speak up if they see someone making bad choices.

KTVA 11’s Bonney Bowman can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.