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Peterson Space Observer

Flight leadership course undergoes changes

By Erinn Callahan | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Both senior enlisted Airmen and senior officers now have the opportunity to develop their flight leadership skills as part of the 21st Space Wing’s effort to revitalize squadron-level learning.

In August 2016, Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, announced his initiative to revitalize squadrons, calling them “the beating heart of the United States Air Force, our most essential team.”

“Leadership essentially starts when you are a young officer or enlisted, and it starts at the squadron level,” said Capt. Alli Thomas, 21st Operations Support Squadron flight commander, current operations. “That’s where there’s a gap in courses.”

The 21st SW held its first leadership course for flight commanders in May 2018, followed by another in September, Thomas said. Now the wing is using the Flight Commander’s Edge program — developed in November 2018 by Air University’s eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education — to include lessons that apply to all senior enlisted members and senior officers within the wing.

The classes will be held quarterly in three-day sessions, with a curriculum designed to provide a venue for flight commanders and flight chiefs to learn about and discuss leadership topics.

This includes conflict resolution, followership, ethical leadership, and senior leader discussions — that may help them in their new roles, Thomas said.

Such a course would have come in handy for Thomas when she was selected to fill a flight commander position as a new first lieutenant, she said.

“At the time, I was not aware of any flight-level leadership courses I could take,” Thomas said. “If I could go back, I definitely would have wanted to attend a course like this. I think it’s good to learn from people in different career fields and be able to have those discussions with your peers.”

Col. Todd Moore, 21st SW commander, kicked off the three-day course Feb. 6, 2019, outlining his views on leadership for the roughly 20 students seated in the First Term Airmen’s Center.

“I can communicate all day long in all the goofy, different ways that I need to, but… that doesn’t solve the communication problem,” Moore said. “Sharing information and communicating with your Airmen is really important, but I’d ask you to double down on listening. I need you to be in tune with what’s going on.”

Above all, flight chiefs and flight commanders should not let fear of failure hinder their leadership, Moore said.

“Part of you being in this role is so you grow and you can take on greater responsibility,” Moore said. “I want you to lead well. I want you to be intense. I want you to be professionally intimate with the circumstances of your Airmen. I want you to make mistakes, and I want you to learn from them.”

Moore also taught two courses, “Leading Change” and “Senior Leader Perspective,” along with Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons, 21st SW command chief.

“This is one of his big priorities. It’s been a big push for him,” Thomas said. “I think it’s phenomenal that he’s getting so involved with it.”

The next course is tentatively scheduled for May. Classes have a limit of 25 students, who will be nominated by squadron commanders.

Flight leadership course undergoes changes
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