RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
The 24th Intelligence Squadron held a senior noncommissioned officer and company grade officer driven, three-day Flight Leadership Course June 12, 2018, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The intent of the course is to empower flight commanders and chiefs while also educating them on the resources available within their flights.
Commanding a flight is the first level of command as part of the Squadron Revitalization Plan, and it is an excellent opportunity for wing, group and squadron commanders to assess the potential of their most talented leaders. This is also when commanders can begin targeted development as part of an overall talent management effort within their unit.
“The Flight Leadership Course provides a leveling of knowledge across all of our SNCOs and CGO ranks for people in leadership positions,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Place, 24 IS commander. “It gives them the tools and training they need to take care of our Airmen. They are the ones that drive our mission force. We always have to execute that mission, but that mission is done through our Airmen.”
The first two days of the course consisted of briefings from areas such as the command leadership and Airmen Resiliency Teams, along with briefings to help them understand topics such as Air Force budgets, funding lifecycle and utilization, and how to request manning.
“It’s been really helpful overall, being still relatively new to the unit,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Katherine McCord, 24 IS full motion video flight commander. “We’ve had different breakdowns of the intel community talk to us, such as linguists, imagery analysts and some of the senior NCOs from those different areas. That was really helpful, from a leadership perspective, to really know what was expected from those Airmen that we might be supervising, and how to really help them along with their careers.”
This is the seventh iteration of the course since its inception in 2016, and feedback from previous sessions has led to flight commanders reviving leadership span of control to the supervisory number for flight commanders.
“We used to have a captain or senior NCO running a flight of about 120 to 150 people out on the line,” Place said. “That is an unattainable span of control challenge. What we’ve done is align the flights so there is no more than 40 people per flight. That is a good number, where the flight commander and flight chief get to know their people at the family and interest level.”
Feedback also led to the course changing from two days to three, adding a hands-on, teambuilding capstone event.
During this iteration’s capstone event, participants visited the Luxembourg American Cemetery where they helped maintain gravesites and packaged Luxembourg and American flags that were used at the graves on Memorial Day. The 24 IS traces its history back to World War II and was part of the Normandy invasion and was one of the first intelligence units on the European continent.
“We’re actually looking to see if any of our folks from the 24th IS from that timeframe are laid to rest at the cemetery,” Place said. “It’s important for leadership to understand their place in history and understand the historical perspective of where, as squadron, we’ve come from and how they play the role as leaders in their own legacies going forward.”
McCord, who helped organize the capstone event, said she appreciated the opportunity.
“This is the culmination of the whole course,” she said. “We had a four-hour block where we were working to beautify the cemetery and the grave sites. There is some great World War II history out there, and we had the opportunity to talk about and honor the service of those who served before us.”
Developmental courses like this one are important for growing a culture of leaders and decision makers.
“This has been really helpful, especially for being a first-time flight commander in the squadron,” said McCord. “I think many times we have various flight leaders working different shifts or different hours, and we don’t have a lot of face-to-face time with each other as leaders. So, making those bonds and having the opportunity to chat in this forum has been really helpful. Taking those lessons learned and sharing them with the Airmen will make us better as a whole.”