By Col. Randy Gibb
Behavioral Science & Leadership
For the past several months we have used this space to present information about the USAFA Outcomes. So far we have addressed all of the Responsibility Outcomes, the Skill Outcomes and the first Knowledge Outcome. This week, with the Class of 2012’s Recognition just completed, it is appropriate to reflect on the Outcomes as a whole and how they link to Recognition Training.
A recent publication on our Outcomes reviewed the specific role each Outcome plays in developing leaders of character. The following was taken from this brochure and explains the strategic perspectives of what the Outcomes are: The Academy seeks to integrate military, academic, athletics, and Airmanship curriculum to culminate in each cadet earning a bachelor of science degree as well as a commission in the Air Force. This integrated curriculum, or course of instruction, is designed to develop critically important responsibilities, skills and knowledge in cadets. Collectively, these are called the Academy’s Outcomes. These Outcomes were adopted officially by the Academy in 2007 after a year-long effort by a cross-functional team chartered to study and recommend a concise set of Outcomes which would help integrate the developmental contributions of the Academy’s key functional areas: the dean of faculty, the commandant of cadets, the character and leadership center, the director of athletics, and the Academy’s varied Airmanship programs.
Recognition Training is a vital and historical part of the Academy experience. For fourth-class cadets, the actual event provides a stern test of the Outcomes of Teamwork, Stamina and Discipline. For the upper-class cadets, the event provides a leadership opportunity regarding the Outcomes of Decision Making, Respect for Human Dignity, Ethical Reasoning and Action and Discipline. Recognition Training also incorporates the Outcomes of Heritage and Application of Air, Space and Cyberspace Power for everyone involved.
In many ways, the Outcomes are nothing new to the Academy.
Since the first class of graduating officers, our mission elements have guided cadet education and training; however, with the formal adoption of the Outcomes a more intentional and deliberate process of curriculum design and assessment was established. Consequently, every cadet experience can be examined in the context of the Outcomes. With that in mind, a question was posed to a sample of both cadets and officers regarding the role of Outcomes and Recognition. The following are some of the responses provided:
“Recognition filled me with a great sense of pride and self-worth. It was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever been through, and is definitely one of the most rewarding. The tradition of 51 years of Academy graduates is reflected in the Recognition experience. It’s a gift, and one that I look forward to sharing with those underneath me this weekend.” 2011 Cadet
“It is to push the freshmen physically and mentally, to see them work together as a class and overcome these impossible three days and to hopefully understand the underlying aspect of teamwork that we upperclassmen try to ultimately instill in them. 2011 Cadet
“While it’s true that even I don’t still fully understand the reasoning behind some of the things that we do here, I do know that somehow the culmination of those things forged me into who I am today, and now that I’m here, I wouldn’t go back to who I was.” 2011 Cadet
“It is definitely a teamwork exercise, as no 4th degree can make it through without the help of his or her classmates, but that is the main emphasis of the event and 4-degree year in general. It also helps with courage, stamina, and discipline, as it is a daunting task for a 4-degree to be faced with a group of upperclassmen training and critiquing their every move throughout a three-day period. Finally, it is their last test of Air Force heritage with freshman knowledge … the planning and execution of Recognition is a leadership challenge for the upper classes. It begins with ethical reasoning followed by decision making when writing and overall squadron plan. This plan has to take into account things that will make this a tough and memorable experience for the degrees … adherence to the training plan and rules of engagement can often require just as much discipline on the part of the upperclassmen as is expected out of the 4-degree for the event.” 2009 Cadet
“I believe it ties into USAFA outcomes (decision making, stamina, teamwork, discipline, critical thinking) because it challenges the freshmen to overcome physically and mentally challenging events. It also helps the upperclassmen grow because they are responsible for the freshmen’s success. … I hated it at the time because it was difficult, but after a few years of reflection, I thought it was a valuable experience. 2009 Cadet
“I think there is a direct link between recognition and decision making, stamina, courage, teamwork and discipline.” Officer
“A couple things I remember from Recognition training deal with me finally figuring out who I was and what I was willing to do.” Officer