Leadership News

Thursday, May 29, 2014

JBSA-Lackland hosts international enlisted leader summit

by Senior Airman Krystal Jeffers
502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/28/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody hosted an international senior enlisted leader summit May 13-16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Command chiefs and senior enlisted leaders from around the Air Force participated in the summit. They were joined by senior enlisted leaders from the air forces of 24 countries, many the equivalent of the chief master sergeant of the Air Force.

"Our Air Force, and the entire Department of Defense, has always recognized the value of our international partnerships," Cody said. "Over time those relationships have become increasingly more important and we've seen the impact in operations around the globe. We want to build on those partnerships. We want to develop them and use them to strengthen our team."

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, opened the summit by sharing his thoughts on the importance of the exchange. "It's how we support each other, whether it is humanitarian assistance or combat operations," Rand said. "It is how we preserve our freedom and take care of those in need. I think that one of the best things about (this summit) is the opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn from each other."

Both the senior leaders from the U.S. and allied countries echoed Rand's thoughts in regards to exchanging knowledge and experience.

"The more we get together to share ideas and learn from each other, the stronger the partnerships become and the greater we are as a combined force accomplishing common goals around the world," Cody said.

"I think we have a lot to learn from each other," said Warrant Officer of the Royal Australian Air Force Mark Pentreath. "I don't think any service or any country has it perfect. This summit is quite unique; bringing together people from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. We have very different cultures and training, but we all have the same goal and are very proud to be in (our respective) air force. We have the same love for our air force and country, the same pride."

Over the three-day summit, the group had the opportunity to observe practices and discuss in-depth and share their thoughts on a wide range of topics. During the opening comments, Rand shared his top priorities as the AETC commander: "the mission, the Airmen who do the mission, the families who support the Airmen, our core values which are fundamental to us, and our heritage which can inspire and enforce our core values."

Some of the other topics covered include how to care for military families as defense budgets are minimized, the U.S. Air Force core values and Airmen's Creed, recruiting, professional development, how basic military training instructors are adapting to changes in BMT and developing character in Airmen.

"The majority of the discussions focused on the professional development of our enlisted force," Cody said. "We talked about strategic international enlisted development, training and education and how you shape those core concepts to strengthen the force. We also talked about sexual assault prevention and resiliency, and we shared some of the challenges we face in our air forces and how we are working to eliminate those from the ranks.

"Every time you have these discussions there is information from other nations that you can pull out and consider adopting in our own approaches," Cody continued. "So, it all contributes to the growth of the enlisted force, both here and around the world."

The United Kingdom Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and U.S. Air Force each presented how they train, educate and develop their enlisted airmen. The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session and discussions.

As part of the summit, the group toured both the old basic military training dormitories and the new Airman Training Complexes, the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training site at the JBSA-Lackland Medina Annex, and the security forces technical school.

United Kingdom Master Aircrew Duncan Hide, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Air Command, said he enjoyed seeing how the U.S. does their training and seeing the difference from the old dormitories and the new ATCs. He noted that there were a lot of similarities between the U.S.'s eight-week BMT program and the U.K.'s 10-week training program; however, the biggest difference was the large scale on which the U.S. Air Force trains recruits.

During the tour of BMT facilities, the senior leaders had the opportunity to speak to trainees and observe a BMT graduation.

Pentreath said that one of his favorite parts of the summit was learning what recruits thought about the training. He could see that the trainees held great respect for their MTIs and how much they loved their air force, a feeling he shared for his own air force.

In addition to viewing how the U.S. Air Force recruits and trains Airmen, the summit also included visiting the Inter-American Air Forces Academy and the Defense Language Institute English Language Center, both of which trains foreign military members. IAAFA provides 34 courses taught in Spanish covering professional military development, aircraft maintenance, logistics and other similar training to members of the armed forces of the Americas and annually graduates 800 partner-nation students. The curriculum at DLIELC acculturates and trains international military personnel to communicate in English so they can instruct English language programs in their country. DLIELC annually graduates 2,800 students.

"JBSA is an ideal location for international exchanges," Cody said. "We have phenomenal organizations here in the IAAFA and the DLIELC, which provide a venue for different nations to come together and learn from and with each other in a common environment. There is also the benefit of what we do here in regards to our enlisted development. When you look at recruiting, training and education ... it all begins here. So, this is a great location and venue to see firsthand the way we develop our enlisted force, and use that a starting point as we discuss enlisted development on a global scale."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Developing leaders at Striker Stripe

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

5/22/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A leadership conference geared toward developing some of Air Force Global Strike Command's most promising young noncommissioned officers concluded here May 15.

The annual five-day conference, known as Striker Stripe, gathers a select few of AFGSC's highly capable Staff Sergeants and Technical Sergeants from across the command to meet with senior leaders and to engage both with experienced professionals and with each other.

"The camaraderie between the best and brightest in AFGSC was one of my favorite things about the conference," said Staff Sgt. Brendan Brustad, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of customer service and acquisitions for the 509th Medical Support Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. "Every evening a group of us got together and shared our experiences and advice. It was a great networking opportunity"

Over the course of five days, the 46 NCOs attended seminars led by speakers including Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Alston, senior enlisted leader for U.S. Strategic Command and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Winzenried, senior enlisted leader for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. These seminars covered subjects such as fiscal responsibility, education, suicide and sexual assault prevention and response, state of the command, social media techniques, leadership perspectives and professional development.

"I'm excited for you, because I think there are a lot of great opportunities ahead of you in your careers," Cody said. "It was a turbulent 2013, it is a turbulent 2014, it's going to be a turbulent 2015 and 2016; there's going to be some turbulence out there. But within that turbulence is a great opportunity for you to shape our Air Force. When we talk about innovation, that innovation is going to come from men and women just like you."

Conferences like Striker Stripe are designed to give Airmen tools that make them more efficient, which they then take back to their unit. This potentially benefits a much larger audience than those few who personally attended the conference.

"I'll be taking back the knowledge of the new EPR and Airmen feedback form," said Staff Sgt. Nickie Watson, a missile alert facility manager with the 490th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. "I'm excited to be able to let all of my NCO colleagues that I work with know about them and what to expect come January 1, 2015."

Attendee response to Striker Stripe has been overwhelmingly positive, and the command plans to continue program for the foreseeable future.

"It was beyond my expectations to meet many great leaders such as Chief Cody, the Chief Master Sergeant of The Air Force," Watson said. "I learned a lot of stuff about Air Force Global Strike Command which I didn't know that I will be telling everybody who I come in contact with at Malmstrom."

Being a leader is about empowerment

by Capt. Joe Ahlers
97th Air Mobility Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate

When you look up a few quotes on leadership, common themes develop: leaders are visionary. Leaders show the way and guide those underneath them to success. Leaders take the helm, they steer the ship and they set the example. For lack of a better word, leaders…lead.

But just as, if not more, important to developing as a leader is learning to empower subordinates to take on leadership roles of their own. As impressive as one person’s credentials may be, they cannot alone be the stone on which a successful organization is built. Successful leaders know this and they cultivate strong leadership skills among their followers by harnessing a vital but difficult to master personal skill: deference. Deference means showing respect or yielding to an idea, person, or organization not of one’s own. Deference is not easy; leaders must make tough decisions and supporting a subordinate’s ideas or methods is difficult when the leader knows that they will bear the responsibility if things go wrong. Yet, a leader who defers to their subordinates when appropriate will have followers who are more invested in their work, produce better results, and are more dedicated to the greater success of the organization.


Take for example two supervisors, Jack and Susan. Jack dictates exactly what each person in an office project will work on and how they should carry out their tasks; he spends significant time re-working memorandums from his subordinates to conform to his style of writing and carefully scrutinizes the most minor decisions within his organization. Jack’s employees know they are merely at work to fulfill Jack’s task listing and do not make efforts to go above and beyond as doing so has little payoff in Jack’s eyes.

Susan, on the other hand, provides her employees a framework for office tasks but gives them latitude to explore and develop their own solutions. Susan ensures work product is accurate and sets general guidelines but believes it is important that a subordinate’s work carry its own voice and not simply her style or way of doing things. Susan ultimately makes the final decision but her employees see that she genuinely considers their viewpoints and trusts them as professionals. Susan’s subordinates are more confident and enthusiastic in their daily work and take pride in ensuring they take charge of their job functions regardless of their prominence.

Deference in leadership is easily applicable in the military. Even tasks guided by layers of regulation provide opportunities for leeway in how to accomplish daily tasks. Effective leaders nurture leadership at every level and encourage subordinates to become the expert and take responsibility for their work. If a written memorandum is wrong, fix it, but leave some room for the subordinate to use their own style; supervisors can ensure work is in the proper form and promote an employee’s confidence by deferring to their personal style. Provide subordinates a framework for how to accomplish a task and see what they come up with; you might be surprised to see a new way of doing things and you’ll drive the employee to work harder to impress.

In many ways, we are all leaders; we have raised our hands to guide the defense of the nation in whatever way we’re asked. But in daily life, leadership is much more than managing a task or directing a project; it’s about promoting a environment in which those who follow you do so not because they have to but because they desperately want to impress you and improve your organization. A true leader knows that empowering the skills and abilities of those who follow them means promoting the ideas of not just themselves, but all individuals who make up a successful team.

What kind of leader are you? What’s your leadership style?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Diversity and force management go hand-in-hand

By Senior Airman Jamie Jaggers, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location-P / Published May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Force management and diversity were the two main talking points for Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, during his presentation at the Air Force Association monthly breakfast May 15th.

“We’re going to see a force size that’s about the same as when we became a separate service in 1947,” Cox said. “So, by fiscal year 2015, it’s 310,900 active-duty personnel.”

He explained the basic force management programs for volunteer separation and early retirement currently underway, highlighting the fact recruiting is being impacted only by 4 percent.

“Back in 2005, we cut accessions by 39 percent, and we realized that was not a good thing to do,” Cox explained. “We don’t want to do that again, so that’s why we limited this. It’s a measured approach, so we don’t have this huge bathtub that goes through the entire system.”

Cox noted the impact for recruiting will increase to a total of 14 percent by fiscal 2015, and spoke about the involuntary separations that could be on the way.

“We guarantee we’re going to give everybody six months notification before an involuntary separation board of any kind, and at the time of the decision, four months before you leave the Air Force,” Cox said.

In a discussion on diversity, Cox presented ideas for how the Air Force can continue to attract and retain a wide array of Airmen.

“Let’s give money to a wing commander, and let them reach out to a local high school or community that has science, technology, engineering, and math in their curriculum," Cox said. "Bring them out to the Air Force base; get them in a simulator; take them out on the flight line; give them a box lunch; charter a bus to bring them out there; bring their parents. Because if we get the diversity of this nation brought into the Air Force, that’s how we’ll succeed.”

Cox took note that many Airmen leave the force in order to grow their families, and made a notable suggestion for a retention program.

“Why don’t we have a program that allows, in some cases, to be able to separate from the Air Force for a short period of time to tend to family, professional, or other personal needs, then come back in?" Cox said.

Cox briefly explained the career intermission pilot program, which will test a group of Airmen who will be released from active duty to the individual ready reserve for three years, and come back on active duty, with their time in service uninterrupted.

“It’s going to be a selective board based on quality, it’s not just anybody; we want people who have high potential to be able to do that program,” Cox Said.

Cox’s presentation brought the worlds of force management and diversity into one scope; while the Air Force continues to down size, the recruitment and retention of high quality Airmen is of equal importance.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

23rd AMU superintendent embodies culture of excellence

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

5/13/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The superintendent for the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit was recently awarded the Lieutenant General Leo Marquez award for superior service in maintenance at Minot Air Force Base, April 8, 2014.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael B. Moser competed against Airmen from each major command. Earning this Air Force-level award was a surprising win for the Tucson, Ariz., native, he said.

"I covered all aspects of training for 580 Airmen, noncommissioned officers and senior noncommissioned officers under seven different career fields," Moser said.

To achieve success, Moser sought guidance from role models in ranks above him early in his career. He based his mentoring style and leadership techniques off what he learned.

"I've always found someone a couple moves ahead of me and looked at what I could do to make myself better," Moser said.

Although his management skills contributed to winning the award, the key to success was the Airmen that work under him, he said.

"To see an award like this given to me is really an award for the men and women of this unit," Moser said. "I know the effort they put out is world class."

The Airmen in his squadron are the ones who "perform miracles on a daily basis," he said. Their dedication to the mission and diligent work ethic reflected his leadership strengths and overall management skills.

"Keeping planes in the air, delivering weapons, supporting the continuous bomber presence, and deployments, are just a few of the tasks that the Airmen accomplish year-round," Moser said. "The respect and dedication I have to the men and women of this unit is so great."

Moser was able to lead his Airmen through 194 evaluations with a 93 percent pass rate in addition to leading 126 Airmen to produce 57 out of 58 sorties at 10 percent above standard.

"I don't know how they do it," said Moser. "They are the toughest young men and women in the world."

He was also able to execute the 5th Bomb Wing 2013 flying hour program with 1,042 flights and 5,624 flying hours.

"Sergeant Moser has the respect of the unit, not only amongst the Airmen who work for him, but the peers that work alongside him," said Senior Master Sgt. Bradley Sufka, 69th AMU aircraft section superintendent. "He truly walks the walk and talks the talk."

Ethics Advisor Equates Professionalism With Leadership

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 – Evaluating the state of its professionalism is a way for today’s military to pay tribute to those who have served before and to keep faith with the American people, the Defense Department’s senior ethics officer said here today.

Five weeks into her new position as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s senior advisor for military professionalism, Navy Rear Adm. Margaret D. “Peg” Klein discussed during remarks at a Surface Navy Association luncheon the scope of her office’s mission and the importance of honoring the value of military professionalism.

“When you think about what goes into military professionalism, frequently the first word that comes to peoples’ mind is ethics,” she said. Some people think about ethics from a compliance or Law of Armed Conflict standpoint, she added, but she said her office’s charter is all-encompassing.

The admiral said she has had discussions with academics and practitioners as she has sought to examine the issues facing military professionalism.

“We were energized because of the value of the profession and [because] the honor that we pay to those who’ve gone before us is very important,” she said. “We care deeply about the profession. We are professionals -- what we do impacts the profession. It’s how we honor the people who have gone before us, but I also want to talk about our collective responsibility to those who come next.”

Klein touched on various topics relating to the question of why an evaluation of military professionalism is necessary.

“As a profession,” the admiral said, “you could say that we’ve been dead reckoning for a while, and that, perhaps, it’s time to take a fix and have a closer look at our position.”

Klein said it would easy to say this examination has come about in light of recent behavior and incidents that “grab headlines and causes us to talk and maybe ask questions among ourselves.”

“But it’s more than that,” she added. “It’s about leadership. That is what we all have in common. We are all leaders, whether in civilian clothes or whether in the uniform of our country.” Regardless of whether people wear a military uniform now or have done so previously, Klein said, there is an “obligation as leaders to be stewards or custodians of this profession.”

Klein noted that Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began extensively exploring the profession of arms when he led the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

“General Dempsey, when he was the head of Training and Doctrine Command, spent a lot of time thinking and writing, and talking about the profession,” she said. “He undertook a study of the profession, noting that … ‘war has changed us, but we don’t yet know how,’” Klein said.

The chairman also had an understanding of the profession that ancient Greek poet Homer wrote about in “The Iliad.”

“‘The Iliad’ is an ancient story about ethical conduct during war,” Klein said. “That little microcosm inside of ‘The Iliad’ indicates that the discussion about professionalism is not new, nor the questions that we’re asking ourselves.”

The admiral noted the U.S. military has evaluated itself as a profession dating back to the Civil War. After World War II, Vietnam, and the end of the Cold War, Klein said, “we have re-evaluated who we are, and what we stand for as a profession.”

Professions that are agile ask very fundamental questions, the admiral said. “They evolve, they challenge assumptions, they reflect and they grow, and not just in size,” she told the audience.

“But there’s still a bigger reason to ask questions,” Klein added. “As a profession, we don’t exist because we’re a jobs program. We don’t exist to perpetuate ourselves. We’re an instrument of national power, and we take an oath to the Constitution. Every one of us, when we joined, we answered a calling -- a calling that that oath represents.”

Therefore, Klein said, actions by service members are not judged against whatever societal norm someone picks out and uses. “We’re judged against that special trust and confidence that’s placed in us,” she said. “So our actions -- good and bad -- reflect on the profession. … We have the leadership role to carry out, [and] it’s that profession that we’re responsible to.”

Hagel established the position she occupies, Klein said, so someone could spend time thinking about the profession.

“So we can put all the programs and policies in place to say that we don’t condone ‘X’ behavior,” she added, “but until each one of us realizes that it’s our responsibility -- it’s our duty to eradicate these behaviors from our profession -- they’ll continue to exist.”

Klein quoted Hagel in saying, “‘It’s the responsibly of all of us -- all of us who asked for the trust and confidence of the American people -- to ensure ethics and character are imbued in all our people.’”

As her office begins its work, Klein said, she and her staff are trying to understand the scope of the issues and the underlying behaviors from both ends of the age and experience spectrum.

“The work that we’re doing is about people,” Klein said. “Who we promote, therefore, has to represent what we promote.”

“Why evaluate our profession?” she asked again. Part of it is to honor those who served in the past, but it’s also about the future, Klein said.

“It’s about the citizens we’ve taken an oath to protect, and those citizens who provide their sons and daughters,” the admiral said. “They’re the ‘why.’”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SecAF honors Airmen with leadership awards

By Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook, 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published May 13, 2014

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presented four Airmen with the 2014 Secretary of the Air Force Leadership Award, May 5, during ceremonies at Air University schools here.

The award is the Air Force's most prestigious award for leadership, honoring exceptional performance in a professional military education setting.

The award is presented annually to one student from Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, Squadron Officer School and the Air Force Senior NCO Academy.

The award recipients were Capt. Collin Christopherson, SOS, Maj. Houston Hodgkinson, ACSC, and Senior Master Sgt. John Alsvig, SNCOA. The AWC's recipient will be announced during the school's graduation ceremony May 22.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be able to present the Secretary of the Air Force Leadership Award to each of the recipients, who not only excelled academically but also displayed outstanding leadership qualities that distinguished them from their peers," James said. "As we become a smaller, but more capable and technologically advanced force, educating Airmen becomes even more critical. We need leaders who can effectively plan and execute strategies, leaders who can help our Air Force deal with evolving conditions and emerging threats as they develop."

She focused on the vital mission at AU, and the quality of the leaders it creates.

"Therefore, the success of our Air Force and our national security is directly related to the quality of our people. It's tempting to focus on the technology that surrounds us -- the aircraft and the satellites, state of the art communications and computer systems," James said. "But regardless how advanced our systems and technology are, we will always depend on the education, training, commitment and, ultimately, the quality of our Airmen who operate and maintain these systems in support of our nation's defense. Congratulations to each of the recipients for a job well done."

Alsvig received the award in absence, having left the school to return to his duty station at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

"I'm still not sure how the choice was made with so many amazing SNCOs in the running," Alsvig said. "This award is for my family, classmates and teammates' sacrifices, not just from 2014 but from day zero of coming into our Air Force. I am proud that the many years of service and sacrifice has pinnacled with recognition like this. To have the Honorable Deborah Lee James take the time to present this recognition will be something I share with my family and wingmen for years to come."