Leadership course provides Airmen pathways to success

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. David Eichaker
  • National Guard Bureau Public Affairs
Calling the experience "very eye opening," Airman 1st Class Madison Harrison came away from the recent three-day Enlisted Leadership Symposium at Camp Dawson, West Virginia with a greater understanding and appreciation of the total Air Force.

"Seeing how the Air Force works as a whole is going to help me in my career," she said. "This is the kind of information I need to share with other members from my unit.  You can lead a leader or you can lead a leader to lead others."

A material management specialist with the Arizona Air National Guard's 161st Air Refueling Wing, Harrison was one of nearly 400 hand-selected Air National Guard members to attend. ELS hosted Airmen from all three enlisted tiers from the 89 wings, representing the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. The symposium included direct interface with top ANG and the Air Force senior enlisted leaders.

One piece of important information is the Air National Guard Command Chief's Aim Points.

"We need to understand what the profession of arms is and how to apply the profession of arms to what we do every single day," said Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard. "We need to be very mindful of being a resilient Airman, which includes physical, mental, social and spiritual. We have to understand that our Airmen are human beings first, and we need to recognize and embrace our accomplishments."

Understanding how to communicate with Airmen is one way to be a successful leader, noted Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Basik, Air Force representative to the Secretary of Defense for Military Professionalism.

"It's the Airmen who accomplish the mission," Basik said. "There's a psychology associated with inspiring, engaging and elevating Airmen. This is an opportunity for us to focus on what connects with people, what moves people to action, and what helps leaders accomplish the mission through their people."

A key highlight for all attendees was being able to hear directly from the most senior enlisted official within the Air Force as he spoke about topics that can affect Airmen, to include the total force concept and professional development.

"There is only one United States Air Force and it's important that everybody understands that," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. "When I say Air Force ... that's every component--active, Guard, Reserve and civilian."
Hotaling said it is important for all four components to work together.

"The one Air Force concept is pretty simple," he observed. "To be a United States Air Force, it takes four strong components, whether it's the active component, the Air Force Reserve, or the Air National Guard, or our civilian Airmen. Any one component can't be an Air Force without the other three."

Even though there are three uniformed Air Force components, the standards for professional development training and other opportunities are the same, Cody added.

"We have to understand that the end-state is that everybody gets the same professional development education," said Cody. "Everybody has to have the same opportunity to develop. Whatever that developmental opportunity is, every Airman in the Air Force, regardless of the component, has to have access to this ability to develop."

A list of discussion topics included financial responsibility, the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence's Human Capital course and Enlisted Performance Reviews. Access to the ANG's senior leaders also made the ELS a valuable experience.

"Be the best Airman that you can be today," Hotaling said. "If you're a staff sergeant, I want you to be the very best staff sergeant in the Air National Guard. If you concentrate on the here and now, your future will be very bright."