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Strengthening our team, preparing leaders to lead: Agile Patriot

  • Published
  • By Michele Donaldson
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Preparing the next generation of leaders to steer the Air Force of the future was the goal of the Air Force Materiel Command’s Agile Patriot conference held June 6-8 at the 711th Human Performance Wing, here.

The annual conference is designed to provide a premiere professional development opportunity for individuals in the mid-tier Airmen and civilian ranks. Only the best and the brightest from across the command were nominated by their supervisors to attend. The participants had the chance to listen to, and interact with, current AFMC leadership as well as other subject matter experts.

Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, AFMC Commander, kicked-off the event and tackled three major topics: the command structure, the AFMC strategic plan, and his leadership philosophy.

Richardson explained the role of each center and how they work together to deliver capabilities to the Air Force.

“My team and I added a critical word to our mission statement – integrated,” said Richardson. “We integrate not just across our centers, but across capabilities, and that is what AFMC is all about.”

Richardson shared his “Thoughts on Leadership” paper and encouraged the audience to begin creating their own. His paper included events that affected his career choices, tidbits he had learned from leaders in his own life and quotes that help him.

“It’s never too early to take notice of how others lead,” said Richardson. “You can learn from poor leaders as well as great ones.”

Participants also learned about current National Defense Strategy and world threat overviews on day one with briefings from Jeffrey Glover from AFMC Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Directorate A2 and Master Sgt. Daniel Salisbury from the China Aerospace Institute.

Day two began with an interactive conversation with Command Chief Master Sgt. David A. Flosi. When asked what keeps him up at night, Flosi responded the Airmen in the command are his biggest worry.

“I don’t lose sleep about the capability of the force and our people,” he said. “I’m most concerned about whether we are doing the right things for our people, and I take action on those concerns every day.”

The day continued with an energetic self-awareness and connection presentation by Dr. J.W. Womack from the United States Space Force. Team building activities, program updates, news on civilian wellness and a program on optimism rounded out the day.

The final day offered a leadership viewpoint from Lorna B. Estep, AFMC Executive Director, followed by a session on the advantages and differences between mentoring and coaching by Amanda Smith-Nethercott from AFMC Manpower, Personnel and Services.

An overview of the Air Force Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility plan was offered by Keith Tickle, Chief, AFMC DEIA Strategy Division. His talk led into a series of leadership case studies which were presented via an artificial intelligence-based collaborative software. The topics were well-received by the audience and set off a dialogue on dealing with difficult people and situations.

The day closed with a final leadership perspective from AFMC Deputy Commander, Lt. Gen. Carl E. Schaefer, who encouraged the participants to stay “humble and approachable,” and he modeled that behavior by taking numerous questions from the audience.

He spoke about ethics and doing the right thing even when it’s difficult, and the importance of keeping one’s boss informed.

“They need to know not just the bad and the ugly—make sure you tell them the good as well,” Schaefer said. “That’s often forgotten.”

He also recommended making self-care a priority.

“Get adequate sleep, exercise, nutrition and connect with something bigger than yourself,” he said. “And above all, take good care of your family. The best advice I got as a young captain was to make sure your family knows that they are your priority.”

“You are all patriots,” Schaefer said in closing. “You are serving the greatest nation on the earth with the most powerful military in history--all so that we can continue to maintain our American way of life.”