Commander’s course preps commanders and spouses

  • Published
  • By Abigail Meyer
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs

Being selected to take command is an honor, privilege, and a challenge. The Air Force District of Washington hosted a week-long conference April 18-22 at Joint Base Andrews, Md., for newly selected squadron commanders and their spouses, seeking to prepare them for a successful tour of duty.

The course consisted of briefings from each AFDW directorate and several question and answer panels. It also included off site visits to Gettysburg, Pa., for the incoming commanders and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and Military OneSource Headquarters in Arlington, Va., for the spouses.

As part of the course, Maj. Gen. Joel Jackson, AFDW commander, shared strategies for making difficult decisions, and encouraged commanders to help their Airmen understand the “why” behind those decisions.

“Tell them, make them understand, bring them along,” Jackson said. “They are going to work harder, they’re going to take your strategic vision and they are going to take it to the next level because they are smart and they can build on it if you let them know why.”

The panelists and briefers provided resources, imparted wisdom, and shared lessons learned in order to prepare the 19 incoming and new commanders and the five spouses. Major Ralph Soto, who will soon take command of the 11th Comptroller Squadron at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., traveled from Hawaii to attend the course.

“It’s critically important because it essentially sets the stage, you learn about the mission, get a better understanding of the good, the bad, and the challenges and things to look forward to when you’re trying to make a difference and bring out solutions,” Soto said.

An aspect of the course he found particularly beneficial was meeting with peers.

“More importantly, you get to collaborate, talk with your teammates who you’re getting in the trenches with- build relationships early on,” Soto said. “Knowing you’re not alone, and that we all are facing the same challenges, but knowing that you can overcome it with each other and knowing that resources are available, everything from medical to financial.”

The spouses also felt the personalized course allowed them to make connections with their fellow spouses.

“The biggest benefit was building those relationships with other command spouses, and just feeling more connected,” said Gabriela Keener, military spouse. “The trip we took to visit TAPS and to visit Military OneSource really bonded us and then exposed us to other resources that are out there to meet the needs of the Airmen.”

The Air Force District of Washington hosts a commander’s course each year and provides mentorship opportunities to set leaders up for success.