Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AFRC hosts Junior Officer Leadership Development course at The Citadel

by Senior Airman Meredith A. H. Thomas
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/14/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- It's not uncommon to see scores of cadets in military attire milling about the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, but from July 10-13 there was an influx of young service members wearing Air Force uniforms. The 315th Airlift Wing hosted a group of nearly 50 up-and-coming junior officers at the state-run institution for the Air Force Reserve Command's Junior Officer Leadership Development course.

"JOLD is the first step in a series of professional development courses that the command offers to young Reserve officers looking to progress in their career," said Mickey McGalliard, junior officer program manager for the Professional Development Center at headquarters AFRC, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. "We like to think of it as your English 101. The skills learned in this course are built upon in subsequent courses, culminating with the International Junior Officer Leadership Development Course, which takes place in different countries each year."

And it was at one of these IJOLD courses that Maj. Kimberley Champagne, performance planner for the 315th AW and organizer of Charleston's JOLD, became inspired as a then-junior officer to one day bring the development course to the Low Country.

"I said to myself in July of 2011 after participating in an IJOLD at The Hague in the Netherlands that, if I was ever lucky enough to be stationed at Joint Base Charleston, I would request to sponsor a JOLD at The Citadel," Champagne said. "So, in planning this event, I literally have been living a dream."

The participants in the course were mostly lieutenants and captains and they were required to compete for slots through the Reserve School Selection Board. According to McGalliard, around 60 individuals usually apply for each of the four yearly iterations of JOLD but only 35 are selected. This year, due to budget restrictions in 2013, the classes were a little larger because students who had been previously selected were rolled into the 2014 courses.

The JOLD classes focused on leadership development, fostering effective communication, force management and development, and career progression among other topics. In addition, students were given a mission briefing by Col. Scott Sauter, 315th Airlift Wing commander, heard comments from Rear Adm. Eric Young, Deputy Chief for the Navy Reserve, and learned about proper social media practices from Col. Robert Palmer, Director of Public Affairs for Headquarters AFRC.

The young officers also had the opportunity to practice their newfound skills and have a bit of fun during a team building exercise. The group split into three teams and learned to collaboratively row long dragon boats around the Charleston harbor and even engaged in some friendly competition, racing the boats three times back and forth across the water.

One main purpose of the JOLD course is to foster networking among Reserve officers at the beginning of their careers. According to McGalliard, the program has unwavering support from senior AFRC leaders for this reason. This is evidenced by the participation of two general officers in this weekend's classes and events. Maj. Gen. James Stewart, military executive officer for the Reserve Forces Policy Board, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Brig. Gen. Kimberly Crider, Mobilization Assistant to the Chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, both served as mentors to the students. The generals answered questions, gave advice to the course participants and briefed them on current challenges in the changing Air Force Reserve environment. They also took to the boats and rowed alongside the young officers during the races.

"This is such a great opportunity to give back to the command," Stewart said. "It's important for us to get out and circulate among these junior officers, be approachable to them and allow them to ask us questions and provide them with some helpful guidance. It's all very rewarding."

And the mentees echoed his sentiment. "This program is highly competitive, but so informative," said Capt. Elenah Kelly, Sexual Assault Prevention Response victim advocate at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina. "It's been invaluable to hear from the upper leadership and learn what it takes to become a great commander in the future."

Champagne endeavored to foster an environment of inspiration and learning where Reserve junior officers could meet each other, build relationships and grow together in their careers.
"This was really a meant-to-be," said Champagne. "I had such a great team behind me during this planning process and so many people rallied around this because they saw the true value in it."

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