Logistics Readiness Squadron invests in future

Graduates of the Logistics Readiness Squadron's Leadership Skills Academy received their completion certificates Saturday of Sept. UTA. The Leaderships Skills Academy is part of LRS's two tier training program geared toward developing the squadron's future leaders. (back row) Master Sgt. Jon Lamp, 2nd Lt. Clayton Atkinson, Staff Sgt. Andrew Fream, (middle row) Staff Sgt. Laura Shaffer, 2nd Lt. Kevin Hurlbrink, Master Sgt. Justin Walther, (front row) Staff Sgt. Chastity Eggleton, Master Sgt. James DeCicco, and Staff Sgt. Chris¬topher Rion. (Air National Guard photo by Tech.  Sgt. Michael Dickson/released)

Graduates of the Logistics Readiness Squadron's Leadership Skills Academy received their completion certificates Saturday of Sept. UTA. The Leaderships Skills Academy is part of LRS's two tier training program geared toward developing the squadron's future leaders. (back row) Master Sgt. Jon Lamp, 2nd Lt. Clayton Atkinson, Staff Sgt. Andrew Fream, (middle row) Staff Sgt. Laura Shaffer, 2nd Lt. Kevin Hurlbrink, Master Sgt. Justin Walther, (front row) Staff Sgt. Chastity Eggleton, Master Sgt. James DeCicco, and Staff Sgt. Chris¬topher Rion. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Dickson/released)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- As members of the Air Force, we are constantly being challenged to go further, to challenge ourselves and to challenge those around us. However, for the traditional Guardsman it can be difficult to find the time and opportunity to engage in formal training and development activities.

As a result, the 167 Logistics Readiness Squadron made the decision last year to implement a year-long leadership training program for their noncommissioned officers and company grade officers, what they dubbed the "Leadership Skills Academy."

According to Maj. Christopher Croson, the 167th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, the program, which concluded this past July, focused on developing the squadron's young leaders both personally and professionally.

"Our senior NCOs and squadron leadership [realized that] some of the information in the PMEs that we were taking were things that we wish we would have been taught earlier in our careers," Croson said. "We wanted to empower our troops and help them feel like they were a valued player at the wing."

The program consisted of one hour blocks of discussion-based classes each UTA weekend. The classes covered a variety of topics ranging from discipline to authority pitfalls and were taught by various members of the LRS leadership.

"Most of the instructors had to cultivate their leadership values the hard way by making changes after mistakes," Croson said. "The intent of this course was to create a living conversation where students could learn from the instructor's experiences, forecast their own challenges and make the right decision the first time. No leader is mistake-free, but this mentoring will hopefully gain a head start on the future of the LRS."

The classes were taught in such a way that participants were encouraged to engage in the classes and voice their opinions on the day's topic. Rather than a one hour lecture by the instructor, the classes were driven by the participants and were set up as a structured conversation where the instructors shared their own personal stories and guided the conversation to ensure the class was covering the desired material.

According to Staff Sgt. Andrew Fream, a 167th supply technician who went through the Leadership Skills Academy, the courses allowed him to put himself in the shoes of a supervisor or commander and think what he would do from their point of view.

"Personally, I am a very stubborn person," Fream said. "But now that I have had these courses and had some great teachers, I feel like I am better prepared to adapt to the situation. The classes teach you to take care of your people and to make sure everyone is learning from their mistakes."

Due to the success of the leadership program, the squadron has created a similar program for its Airmen. While the course structure is similar to that of the Leadership Skills Academy, the Airmen program focuses on the roots of military culture, the history of the Air Force, the history of the Guard as a whole and the history of the 167th.  The program also touches on the importance of the wingmen concept and why it is important to develop a sense of fellowship and belonging with one another.

To augment the lesson learned in the Airmen classes, the squadron lined its main hallway with pictures and bios of former Air Force and West Virginia National Guard leaders as well as previous aircraft that were operated by the 167th throughout its history.

"We thought it was important to know where we come from," Croson said. "We wanted to talk about [our history], the history of the Air Force, the history of the Guard and the history of the 167th. That's where the pictures came into play; we lined our hallways with our history so our Airmen can see them when they come into work and read them so that over time they will absorb them and learn that history."

To emphasize the lessons learned in both classes, the LRS is planning a field exercise at Camp Dawson's leadership challenge obstacle course following the conclusion of the Airmen program. The exercise will be designed to allow the NCOs and CGOs to put their leadership training into action while also giving the junior enlisted members the opportunity to showcase what they learned about followership and the wingmen concept.

According to Croson, the squadron's leadership hopes that both programs will elevate the already high standards held by its personnel.

"The LRS is already prepared to lead, fight and win, [with these classes,] our future leaders will continue this excellence by investing in themselves and the future of the squadron," Croson said.