Air Force technical schools employ a unique system of student leadership. Student leaders are chosen according to a number of factors. They must have a grade point average of at least 80, excellent disciplinary records, the approval of their instructors, and some experience in a prior leadership role. Once accepted into the program, Tech School student leaders wear decorative braided cords on their left shoulders. Thus, these airmen are known as ropes. The ropes come in a variety of colors, and each color has assigned to it specific duties and responsibilities.
What Are the Rope Colors?
There are five different rope colors at Air Force Tech Schools. They are red, yellow, green, black, and white. A red rope, which is the highest level that Tech School student leaders can obtain, is a shift leader. That means red ropes take command of all the airmen within a certain shift. A yellow rope takes care of a dormitory floor or flight. A black rope leads either a student drill team or a student special activities team. A white rope serves as a guide and an assistant in the chapel.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Green Rope?
A green rope is the middle level of the leadership positions. Green ropes are higher than black and white ropes, but not as high as yellow or red ropes. If a green rope does an excellent job in all his or her duties, then he or she may be promoted to the rank of yellow rope. Green ropes supervise all the airmen within a particular dormitory bay or element. They make certain that all rules are being followed in that section of the dorm, and they usually march the students for whom they are responsible to class and then back to the dorm.
Becoming a rope at a Tech School does not in itself increase a person's military rank. However, the skills that one learns as a Tech School rope could help him or her later on when it comes to accomplishing everything that needs to be accomplished in order to attain a higher rank. Indeed, being a tech rope is challenging and demanding. Only students who are motivated, disciplined, and mentally strong need apply.
Blue Rope - A Blue Rope is a Military Training Leader (MTL). This is not a student. It is an Air Force Member (usually in the rank of E-4 or E-5) who has volunteered for a special duty assignment (AFSC 8B100). Within each training squadron, you'll find a Chief Military Training Leader (CMTL), a Senior Military Training Leader (SMTL), who is second in charge, and numerous MTLs who work for them. The CMTL generally works directly for the training squadron first sergeant. The MTL staff is responsible for the general supervision and discipline of the student population.
Green Rope - This is a "student leader." 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 and/or element, and, and are generally the ones who march the students to and from class
Yellow Rope - The Yellow Rope is a "Floor Rope" or "Flight Leader." They are typically responsible for all Airmen assigned to a dormitory floor and/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.
Red Rope - This is the "top" student supervisor (Flight/Formation Commander). He/she is selected from Yellow Ropes who show exceptional leadership qualities. The "Red Ropes" usually work directly for the Chief and Senior MTL, and provides general supervision and guidance to the other student ropes. This is the highest leadership position a student can obtain in technical school.
White Rope - Chapel Guide.
Black Rope - Student Drill Team.
Silver or Blue & White -- Drum and Bugle Corps.
Teal Rope - Sexual Assault Awareness