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
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."