KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
The 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, rolled out a locally developed Squadron Commander’s Course, here in January. Twelve current squadron commanders and junior officers participated in this three day course, designed to equip them with lessons learned and command tools as they work in leadership roles.
The Squadron Commander Course is designed to alleviate some of the learning curve associated with stepping into a command role.
“After the first year of taking command of the wing there were so many things I said ‘this would have really helped to know when I started,’ and so I challenged a [group of people] and the result is this course,” said Col. Jeff Smith, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander.
Focusing the course at the squadron leadership level aligns it with the initiative tasked by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, to revitalize squadrons.
“The squadron is the beating heart of the United States Air Force; our most essential team,” Goldfein said in a letter to Airmen. “Our vision demands that ‘squadrons be highly capable, expeditionary teams who can successfully defend our nation’s interests in both today’s and tomorrow’s complex operating environments.”
Overall feedback from the course attendees has been positive.
“The Squadron Commander Course was an amazing opportunity for current and future 173rd Fighter Wing leaders to gather and facilitate discussions that will strengthen Kingsley's future,” said Lt. Col. Jason Nalepa, 114th Fighter Squadron commander. “The course not only provided the next generation of commanders the required tools, but facilitated an open environment for the sharing of experience.”
The first day of the course included discussions on performance reports, documentation, and resource management led by local wing subject matter experts.
“It definitely made me realize how much responsibility commanders have and their impacts on Airmen in an organization,” said Major Eric McDaniel, 173rd FW Installation Deployment Officer. “It was great to learn all the different resources and contacts across the wing that are available for advice.”
The second day of the course covered the unit manning document, force management, details of leading a civilian work force, and question and answer session with the wing Chief Master Sgts.
“My favorite portion of the course was Senior Master Sgt. (Meghan) McMackin and Master Sgt. (Amy) Whaling's UMD/UPMR discussion, because proper management of these documents is the easiest, most effective way to take care of our Airmen,” said Major Joshua Downs, 173rd Maintenance Squadron commander.
The final day of the course included discussions on ethics, discipline, and support resources such as legal, public affairs, and the chaplain’s office. The class capstone was a leadership challenge exercise where the students were able to take the information they had learned over the course of the three days and apply it to hypothetical situations.
“Each a lesson was important and critical in its own way,” said Nalepa. “A commander requires a full tool kit to tackle a myriad of challenges throughout their career.”
There are plans for additional courses in the future, dates yet to be announced.