Department of Defense civilians who have wondered what it would be like to live the military experience for a short time can now satisfy that curiosity through a new leadership program initiated recently by the Air Force chief of staff.
Air Force civilian employees are eligible to attend the Civilian Acculturation and Leadership Training program, or CALT, to increase a focus on career development for civilians.
Modeled on the Officer Training School curriculum, the two week program provides an in-residence experience at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., which is focused on Air Force culture and missions. Civilian participants live under the same rules and conditions as OTS candidates, living in a standard OTS dorm and eat in the OTS dining facility. This also allows the students to be exposed to the young officers with whom they'll be working.
Destiny Leach, a civilian who works with the Ogden Air Logistics Center, attended the CALT program Jan. 5 to improve her leadership skills. "I didn't know what to expect, but I knew the training would encompass leadership responsibilities and roles. I just didn't realize civilians would be given the same materials our Air Force Officers receive in OTS."
The curriculum parallels the leadership modules taught at OTS and includes team building exercises, outdoor activities, simulation exercises and time for personal health and wellness to help one maintain a level of physical fitness. It is designed to be an intensive leadership development program that also requires outside reading and projects. Sixty percent of the course focuses on leadership development with the remainder on the "Air Force Core Values," Air Force history and a war game.
David Perry, a Visual Information/IT specialist for the 75th Air Base Wing, attended the CALT program's first official course offered in October 2009. Perry saw this training program as an opportunity to prepare for future changes in the Air Force civilian workforce and to learn more about the Air Force culture.
"I've heard mentioned there will be a huge change in leadership over the next several years due to retirements. I've also heard civilian leadership is nearly equal to military leadership in terms of the number of leadership positions held. When I learned there was a new training program for civilian force development, I wanted to be part of that, hoping to open my eyes to new opportunities and career development within the Air Force," said Perry.
Throughout fiscal year 2010, Maxwell AFB will host eight classes, with each class consisting of 40 students. The goal is to send 320 civilians through the training program by the end of this fiscal year.
Admittance to the course is selective, and candidates must have worked with the Air Force as a civilian for two to five years, without prior military experience, and have at least a bachelor's degree. Candidates must self-nominate and exhibit leadership qualities.
The course is one of four pillars in the Secretary of the Air Force's and the Air Force Chief of Staff's Civilian Leadership Development Continuum, which focuses on the growth of emerging leaders.
"The staff was comprised of 'the guys who wrote the book' -- those who actually author the curriculum for OTS," Perry recalled of his course. "We (the attendees) were regarded as the 'leaders of tomorrow' and the staff's job was to provide the very best training and experience that would mold and shape the future of civilian leadership."
Both Leach and Perry say they gained valuable leadership skills from the two week program and more.
"My goal prior to attending the training was to learn how to become an outstanding leader for the Department of the Air Force, to take away as much information as possible, and utilize it in my everyday life whether it is in the workplace or in my personal relationships," said Leach. "By the end of the training, my goal was a little different; we learned so much useful information that I told myself to work on becoming an exceptional leader one day and one situation at a time."
"I would like to thank my organization for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this unique civilian training experience; the trainers and guest speakers were some of the best I've had," added Leach. "I have a better understanding of what our Air Force officers have gone through to get where they are today. I have a newfound respect for what they do because of where they started. After attending the course I take more pride in working for the Air Force; I had a blast, learned a lot of great information, and met some of the best and brightest civilians of the Air Force."
For more information on eligibility and how to submit a nomination package, contact Jerry Wilcox, OO-ALC Career Programs manager, via telephone at (801) 777-9157 or e-mail at email@example.com.