The keys to a successful command tour were turned over to the next generation of Air Force Materiel Command squadron level leaders during the 2019 Spring Squadron Leader Orientation April 1-5 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
More than 50 first-time AFMC commanders and materiel and civilian leaders attended the intense five-day training, which included briefings, panel discussions, mentorships sessions and workshops on topics ranging from AFMC mission expectations to information on legal, financial and support programs and resources, and more.
“The orientation is an essential stepping stone for those taking on new leadership roles at the squadron level and ensures the new leaders understand the AFMC culture and what is expected of them as they lead in the organization,” said Johanna Hill, course director. “It is not a training course for learning systems, processes or how to lead; rather it provides new leaders with a tool kit of resources and a network of people to reach out to during their time at the command.”
Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFMC interim commander, opened the event with a short overview of the command mission and also shared his priorities and leadership principles with the group.
“A good leader knows his mission, knows the Air Force mission and is a good steward of resources and tax-payer dollars,” said McMurry.
He continued by comparing the assumption of command leadership to the process of moving into a house. “Command is like a house. You can own it or you can rent, but chances are, you will take better care of a house that you own. Own your command,” he said.
Throughout the week, the new commanders attended sessions on communication, civilian and military personnel, health and wellness, financial leadership, legal affairs and military justice, anti-terrorism and ethical leadership, among others. Opportunities to attend smaller breakout sessions on position-relevant topics such as contracting, deployment management and labor relations were also on offer throughout the week.
Two major enhancements to this year’s offering included the incorporation of squadron and materiel leader mentors into the event and a “Chiefs’ Discussion Panel” during the final day of the orientation. These changes provided the opportunity for attendees to gain insights and learn from the shared experiences of other officers and senior enlisted personnel.
“These changes support the Air Force-wide initiative to ‘revitalize squadrons’ and prioritize the development of exceptional leaders,” said Hill. “Many of our younger officers have expressed the desire for greater interaction with current leaders in order to learning from them and improve their own leadership skills. The changes provided the attendees with that opportunity as well as the chance to develop new mentoring relationships for the future.”
An orientation for newly assigned squadron commander, materiel leader and director spouses was also held concurrent to the Squadron Leader Orientation and provided them with information on the vision, mission and role of AFMC coupled with awareness of resources, opportunities, and tools available to AFMC’s military, civilians and their families.
The entire program received positive feedback by attendees who expressed appreciation for the wealth of information and knowledge gained over the full week of events.
“This has definitely been value-added and has given me a better perspective on squadrons and how to interact with the people who are a part of them,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Idell, who will assume command of the 78th Medical Support Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. “Some of the best information has been from the supporting agencies. I appreciate knowing what AFMC resources are out there that can help me and where to go to access them.”
The positive feedback was appreciated by the event planners whose ultimate goal was to ensure new AFMC leaders left with a toolbox of resources and connections to aid them as they lead squadrons across the command footprint.
“Air Force squadrons have been deemed the ‘beating heart of the Air Force’ by leaders at the highest level. We are setting up our AFMC squadron commanders, materiel leaders and civilian leaders for success so they can lead their teams in innovating and creating agile, cost-effective and war-winning capabilities for our Nation,” said Hill.
The AFMC Manpower and Personnel Force Development team will host the next iteration of the Squadron Leader Orientation in July 2019.