F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
A major focus area for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is to revitalize squadrons as core fighting units, and the 20th Air Force Senior Leader Conference held here March 29-31, did that and more for the leaders executing the Air Force’s number one priority.
Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 commander, invited squadron commanders operating in the Numbered Air Force to discuss command goals and updates, participate in open dialogue and receive direct mentorship regarding leadership in the ICBM force.
“I think it is vitally important for us as leaders to hear what our NAF commander is saying, and sharing this information with our people is the next step,” said Maj. Alexander Vanlear, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron commander. “We are no doubt moving in the right direction, and by sharing our ideas and thought processes, we can improve the enterprise to take care of our Airmen who execute the mission every day.”
Cotton devoted a large part of the conference to mentoring squadron commanders on unique leadership hurdles within the ICBM force. Staying true to Gen. David L. Goldfein’s intent, Cotton challenged his people to think innovatively and empowered them to grow trust within their units.
“We’ve made so many significant changes across the NAF in the last three years, and this conference allows squadron commanders to continue to make those positive changes,” said Col. Stacy Huser, 91st Operations Group commander.
Cotton discussed his 20th AF goals and how they relate to Air Force Global Strike Command initiatives, such as making 2017 the Year of the Family. During a breakout session, wing commanders briefed their unique programs and plans to care for Airmen and their families to spread best practices and lessons learned.
“As squadron commanders, you touch every soul that is assigned to 20th Air Force, and everything you do has an effect,” said Cotton. “Our strategic Airmen are incredible and they make our mission safe, secure, effective and lethal. It is up to you to continue to provide them with the tools they need to execute the mission and the support they deserve to take care of their families.”
Another topic included specific heritage projects being implemented by squadron commanders in their shops and throughout missile alert facilities in the missile complex. Commanders shared their respective themes, which included ornate murals of unit history to unique ICBM swagger, such as morale shirts and accessories.
“This cross-talk is important and so is the timing of having leadership here together, so we can update our Airmen in the field simultaneously,” said Lt. Col. Jamaal Mays, 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Hearing the same message from our NAF commander is great, and sharing feedback with our peers and networking is a huge bonus.”
The agenda was broken up by operational and training updates, to include a brief by the ICBM Center of Excellence on professional development opportunities available to all Airmen. New information included an updated operator instructor course for missileers, statistics on the type of programs available and the roll out of a quarterly ICE road show to increase awareness.
“Twentieth Air Force’s professional development program is a tool to support squadron commanders in deliberately developing their people,” said Cotton. “It is designed for leaders to mentor and build Airmen into skilled nuclear enterprise professionals.”
The wing command chiefs were also in attendance and shared ways to best support and aide their people, from senior leaders to Airmen at the lowest level.
“In order to affect change through good leadership, we all need to have the same tools and hear the same message so we can impact our Airmen as one cohesive combat force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Sato, 582nd Helicopter Group chief enlisted manager.
The wing commanders and other unit commanders in attendance agreed that the conference will positively impact the ICBM force and empower commanders to continue to make innovative changes within their squadrons.
“This conference equipped current squadron leaders with tools to be even better leaders,” said Col. Craig Ramsey, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. “It directly supports the CSAF’s initiative to revitalize squadrons within the Air Force.”