Space Force appoints first Guardian MTL

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Charles Rivezzo
  • Space Training and Readiness Command Public Affairs

On Feb. 29, standing at attention with his left arm extended, Sgt. Thomas Davenport made history when the distinctive blue braid, or aiguillette, was secured to his shoulder, signifying his official designation as a military training leader — the first in the Space Force to earn this title.

For every Guardian, the journey into the Space Force begins with basic military training, a rigorous indoctrination into the service led by military training instructors. Upon completing BMT, enlisted Guardians transition to various detachments across the United States, embarking on their next phase of training specific to their Space Force specialty code. 
At these detachments, Guardians make their first contact with MTLs, picking up where MTIs leave off. Their roles encompass a broad range of responsibilities, including orchestrating physical training, overseeing daily formations, conducting detailed inspections and offering mentorship and counseling.
Historically, the Space Force leaned on Air Force MTLs for this crucial role. Davenport’s achievement marks a significant milestone for the service, as he becomes the first Guardian to serve in this capacity. 
Assigned to the 533rd Training Squadron, Detachment 1, at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Davenport shoulders the responsibility of guiding and mentoring Guardians for the entirety of the initial skills training for intelligence SFSCs. 
“Being the first Guardian MTL is not just a title, it’s a responsibility to embody and impart the Space Force’s core values effectively,” Davenport said. “This role allows me to lay a foundational understanding of character, connection, commitment and courage, crucial for every Guardian. Through active engagement and tailored mentoring, I aim to not only prepare them for their operational roles but also to develop future leaders who embody these core values.” 
Road to the Blue Rope 
A Sebring, Fla., native, Davenport spent his first seven years in the Air Force as a communication signals intelligence analyst before transferring into the Space Force in February 2021.
“For me, joining the Space Force was a no-brainer, especially being part of a unit transitioning into it,” said Davenport. “I love space, I love doing signals analysis related to satellites and understanding how the signals operate to, from and in space with each other. It was always so interesting to me because it genuinely challenged me every single day. I had to push myself to understand and critically think outside the box.” Davenport appreciated the technicality of his work but felt the next step of developing his expertise was to learn how to prepare other Guardians and Airmen to do the same job, he said. His passion for developing the next generation of Guardians that led Davenport to pursue an opening at the 533d TRS Det 1. 
As the Noncommissioned Officer In-Charge of Guardian Development, Davenport excelled in facilitating the professional growth of Guardians within the training pipeline, working alongside his Air Force MTL counterparts. 
“I initially expected to focus on cryptologic management when I arrived here,” Davenport said. “However, realizing our unit was understaffed and our Guardians needed support, I naturally stepped up. Being who I am, if people needed to be taken care of, I was going to make sure they were taken care of. I made sure to learn from Master Sgt. Dean [Air Force MTL] and Tech. Sgt. Brune [Space Force], who both laid the foundation for me to hit the ground running immediately. I took every ounce of information they both had for me and was fulfilling a double duty, in a sense.”
Seizing a dual role with enthusiasm, after six months, Davenport was offered an opportunity to enhance his leadership capabilities at MTL School, or MTLS, at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. 
“Building combat-ready and resilient Guardians begins with growing and shepherding our Guardians carefully during their first 24 months of service,” said U.S. Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Norris, Space Delta 1 senior enlisted leader. “As such, Guardian MTLs are a critical part of the growth and development needed to invest in the talent and expertise our Guardians bring while attending technical training schools.” 
Norris said the establishment of Guardian MTLs will continue to foster the continuum of culture while establishing new avenues for Guardians to connect, share in combined challenges and fulfill the promise of a Space Force experience for Guardians, by Guardians. 
“Sgt. Davenport’s passion to serve is evident in the way he is cultivating and building Space Force culture, while instilling the mindset early on for Guardians to understand the importance of rowing in the same direction as one team, working together at speed,” Norris added. “The entire Space Delta 1 team is extremely proud of Sgt. Davenport’s accomplishments, and his lasting impacts will surely be felt for generations to come as more and more teammates follow the trail he blazed to lead as Guardian MTLs.” During the four-week MTLS, Davenport underwent comprehensive training that included understanding the MTL’s role in shaping military discipline and professional development and addressing Airmen’s and Guardians’ needs adapting to military life.
The curriculum also covered a broad spectrum of topics such as leadership principles, counseling, Airmen and Guardian development, discipline, physical training and resiliency, all aimed at equipping MTLs to support new service members’ holistic development effectively. Additionally, the program certified Davenport as a resiliency training assistant, further enhancing his ability to contribute to their welfare and success. 
“The course was instrumental in providing me with the essential tools and skills necessary to motivate, counsel and ensure the comprehensive training and organization of Airmen and Guardians,” Davenport said. “It has also offered insights into my personal growth.” 
Davenport attributes his accomplishment to the mentorship and collaborative spirit provided by his team at Goodfellow AFB.
“I want to make it very clear: this job is 1,000% a team effort,” Davenport said. “On my own, I would have cracked. The only reason I’m able to do what I’m doing here is because of our team — Master Sgt. Dean, Tech. Sgt. Hollington, Tech. Sgt. Brune, Tech. Sgt. Vaughan, Master Sgt. Lefemine, Master Sgt. Bryant, and Major Tillman. Those initial months were tough, and I had to learn quickly, but I attribute my success to the guidance and mentorship I received from our team.” 
Davenport also expressed profound gratitude for the exceptional mentorship provided by the 17th Training Group's MTL cadre. 
“Their support has been nothing short of amazing, fostering a strong rapport essential to our mission,” he said. “It’s this team dynamic that allows us to give our very best to our Guardians.”