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JB Charleston hosts new leadership course

Students engage each other during a group discussion portion of the new Flight Commander’s Edge course, Nov. 7, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Students engage each other during a group discussion portion of the new Flight Commander’s Edge course, Nov. 7, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The course’s mission is to teach flight commanders how to be better leaders and help meet the goal of Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, to revitalize squadrons and flight leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Sullivan)

Maj. Ryan O’Dea, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer, gives a briefing during the Flight Commander’s Edge course, Nov. 7, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Maj. Ryan O’Dea, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer, gives a briefing during the Flight Commander’s Edge course, Nov. 7, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The course’s objective was to teach flight commanders how to be better leaders and help meet the goal of Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, to revitalize squadrons and flight leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Sullivan)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) -- Company grade officers and senior noncommissioned officers at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., hosted Flight Commander’s edge, a new flight leadership training program, Nov. 6 to 8, 2018.

JB Charleston was selected as the first Air Mobility Command base to lead Flight Commander’s Edge because of its current resources and capabilities to train and develop flight leaders.

“Joint Base Charleston reached out to us earlier about updating their own flight commander’s course,” said William Hammerli, Air Mobility Command learning office strategic planner. “I let them know when the Edge program was coming out and asked if they wanted to be part of the beta test. I wanted to give them that opportunity since they wanted to take charge and lead the way.”

The program supports the Air Force’s priority to revitalize squadrons, as noted by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. Goldfein said squadrons are the beating heart of the Air Force and hammered home the need for flight leadership with more experienced and trained leaders.

“I think the class could have a huge impact on the chief of staff’s goal to revitalize the squadrons,” said Lt. Col. Rose Stoor, Air University's eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education director of program integration. “Our most significant goal is to support the development of flight commander courses across the Air Force.”

Maj. Dan Cascio, 437th Airlift Wing Commander’s Action Group chief and an instructor for the course, seeing firsthand the soon-to-be benefits of the course for future flight leaders. In the course, students learned about topics every flight commander and chief should know such as officer performance reports and awards packages and situations a leader will be faced with.

“The Flight Commander’s Edge uses a targeted method to teach upcoming flight leadership to understand the roles and responsibilities they’re getting ready to get into,” said Cascio. “The course serves as an aggregate treatment of the elements of their job, to teach them the dos and don’ts, as well as a theoretical approach to leadership.”

One of the goals is teaching leadership to take care of their Airmen while helping revitalize squadrons and Cascio sees flight commanders as the first line of supervision in any given squadron.

“We’re putting our best foot forward with the course,” he said. “Our primary focus is to make sure we set our flight leadership up as best we can to lead our Airmen. It’s absolutely imperative to make sure they are equipped to execute the duties of their office to the best of their ability. We owe that to them.”

Capt. Jeff Wagenius, 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge, who has already served as a flight commander, said he took things from this course he hopes to put in his tool belt.

“For me, taking this course was a great opportunity to grow in learning how to gain Airmen’s buy-in for organizational change,” said Wagenius. “When we have changes coming down from commanders, I’ve got to get my 120-plus Airmen onboard. I was looking for tools to enable me to accomplish that for my commanders.

“I hope through feedback from the participants, we can develop something that can set up young flight commanders, like myself, to not just make organizations more efficient, but make our Airmen more satisfied in their jobs.”

Although it’s a beta test and there will be learning curves along the way, Hammerli said he believes JB Charleston did well in the course, creating a learning experience for the students and the instructors, while also reaching what he believes to be the number one goal: taking care of Airmen.

“Take care of Airmen and they’ll take care of the mission, I truly believe that,” said Hammerli. “If they know you care about them, they’ll move heaven and earth for you.”

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