FORT GORDON, Ga. -- The 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group continues working with other services to provide their Airmen with different Professional Military Education opportunities to help them grow as leaders.
This developmental training opportunity is why the 480th ISRG’s leadership selected two senior airmen to attend the Command-Sponsored Marine Corporal's Course when offered two slots by the Marine Corps’ D Company. Not only is it the basis for noncommissioned officer-PME for enlisted Marines, it is a requirement before they are eligible for the rank of sergeant.
“Deliberately vectoring our Airmen to challenging and developmental joint opportunities helps us tangibly develop exceptional leaders,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Foreman, 480th ISRG superintendent. “Our Airmen get to experience a small slice of life as a United States Marine Corps Corporal, and apply that knowledge to how they lead themselves, their subordinates, peers and those in positions in grades above them.”
The intelligence Airmen here operate in a joint service environment. Through working with other military branches, these Airmen learn vital traits increasing their interoperability.
“I think joint PME experiences like this are very important for fostering a more cohesive office environment,” said Senior Airman Kasey, 31st Intelligence Squadron. “I certainly have a greater appreciation and understanding of some of the challenges Marines face - their promotion system, increased responsibilities as E-4 NCOs, and how day to day lives differ from ours. I think having this knowledge allows us to be more effective in accomplishing the mission.
“Although I found Marine culture to be quite different from ours, their views on leadership are very similar,” she said. “In the end, the goal is to take care of your people, while making sure the work gets done. The course gives instructors quite a bit of leeway to inject their own views into lessons, which provided a variety of perspectives that I found interesting.”
Aside from learning how the Marines run administratively, the pair was taught basic skills such as land navigation, hand to hand combat, patrol formations and hand signals. Perhaps more importantly, they got first-hand experience on how the Marines incorporate leadership.
“It was a rare opportunity and I felt honored that my squadron was confident in my abilities to represent the Air Force,” added Senior Airman Lindsey, 3rd Intelligence Squadron. “I was very nervous going in, because every branch in the military has a stereotype, and I had never really interacted with the Marine Corps. However, I discovered their camaraderie and culture was very unique and welcoming.
“I will say the most important thing I learned from the course was the culture,” she added. “Their work ethic and camaraderie is not only taught through their text, but also portrayed and embodied by their leadership. The Marines here put into practice ‘tough love’, but it truly comes from a place of wanting to better those around them. Together, they rise without leaving anyone behind. These are attributes I have tried to take away and instill more within my flight.”
Both Airmen immediately impacted their work centers with their increased skillsets.
“Kasey brought back what she learned in the Corporal Course and immediately put it to use,” said her supervisor Staff Sgt. Ryan. “She is a Physical Training Leader for the PT program in our flight, which has now reached at least a 98 percent pass-rate for more than 50 people. She personally innovated workouts to allow profile-holders to get involved more and keep them fit, and to help them get rigorous work outs that comply with profiles. Also, she brought back a greater willingness to lead and take charge, and aim even higher. She recently took on staff sergeant-level responsibilities of ensuring accountability and manning for a large team of joint service members.”
Additionally, feedback from the Marine Corps instructors showed the impact both Airmen had on the course, and how much they were impressed with Kasey and Lindsey.
“The instructors absolutely love both Airmen,” said Marine Corps Master Sgt. Kenneth Phillips, senior enlisted advisor. “Lindsey killed the PT test, as well at the Combat Fitness Test, and Kasey was a fish in the water for the swim qualification. They have both been very involved in the guided discussions and all of the events, including the range when it was raining and miserable.”
Unit leadership could not be more thrilled with the results.
“The group commander, Col. Abraham Jackson, and I could not be more proud,” added Foreman. “To hear the Marine Corps instructors talk about how exceptional our Airmen were in their course and how much value they brought to fellow Marines was tremendous. These Airmen poured their hearts and souls into this course, and that is why they are Airmen.”
Thanks to combined efforts of both Air Force and Marine Corps leadership, these Airmen are now better equipped to execute joint service missions with their counterparts.