Lieutenants get smart start through development program
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Lt. Gen. CR Davis (middle), Electronic Systems Center commander, along with other base senior leaders, speak to first term lieutenants during the Senior Leader Panel at the Minuteman Commons Feb. 3. The panel was one of many sessions offered to the young officers as part of the Lieutenant Professional Development Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
Posted 2/22/2012 Updated 2/22/2012
by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
2/22/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- First term lieutenants can get a "smart start" thanks to the Lieutenant Professional Development Program held here quarterly. The program allows the young officers to learn more about the installation, as well as the major command, that they may have not learned at their commissioning source.
Capt. Jonathan Demers, Force Protection Branch project manager, and Capt. Luke Kirkland, E-8 Air Vehicle Branch re-engining project manager, volunteer as course facilitators to make sure this two-day program is the most beneficial it can be.
"Hanscom is a unique base," said Demers. "We have tweaked and designed this program to keep the lieutenants' attention and give them information they need to know and will use throughout their careers."
The goal of LPDP is to develop a consistent, command-wide approach to support the development of junior officers. Throughout the two days, 15 to 20 lieutenants hear information from a variety of base personnel.
"The Airman and Family Readiness Center comes in and talks about finance," said Demers. "A deployment manager talks specifically about deployment cycles and what to expect at Hanscom."
The Patriot Honor Guard visits to give the officers a demonstration and invites them to volunteer to serve in the honor guard. Topics such as retirement, force shaping or the GI Bill are discussed, as well.
In addition, in between sessions, the two captains provide these new officers with information on how to access career information through the Air Force Portal and how to establish a career file, resume and more.
Col. Anthony Genatempo, who volunteers as the director of company grade officer professional development, thinks this program is an important program for many reasons.
"The (Air Force) Academy, ROTC, OTS (Officer Training School), and our military PME (Professional Military Education) do a great job in giving you a large picture of the parts of the Air Force, how it works, what it takes to be a leader, as well as covering a vast array of moral and ethical issues," said Genatempo. "What it doesn't do is answer some of the very simple things a lieutenant needs to get by day-to-day once they reach their first base."
He explained some of those items include: What is SURF (career brief) and where do I find it? How do I look up my Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) on the web? What annual training do I have to accomplish? Where is PT logged in on the Air Force Portal? How do I apply for tuition assistance?
"These simple questions and many others are part of living life as a brand new officer," he said, "and this information is just as important to a lieutenant's success as learning about our Air Force history and how we are organized."
Some history and organizational structure is included in the program. For example, the Air Force Materiel Command mission is briefed.
"A security forces Airmen may not be involved with the AFMC mission on a day-to-day basis," Kirkland said. "But it's vital that he knows about the mission being performed at this base. We try and break it down for them."
Another aspect of the course is to introduce lieutenants to senior military leaders, enlisted members and senior civilians.
"Being in AFMC, a lot of officers work in places where there are more civilians than military members," said Kirkland. "There may not be any enlisted personnel in the office. But leading enlisted members is a big part of being an officer and this course helps prepare them for the future."
LPDP provides a panel of enlisted members that range from chief master sergeants to senior airmen and attendees are invited to ask whatever questions may be on their mind.
Additionally, senior civilians are invited to participate in a panel discussion. They talk to the military members about working with civilians or tips on how to work under a civilian supervisor.
The culminating event of the program is the senior leader panel. During the past course, colonels from across the base, as well as Lt. Gen. CR Davis, Electronic Systems Center commander, sat down to speak with the first term Airmen.
"We know that many interactions with senior leaders are in an office setting," said Kirkland. "This panel gave them a chance to interact with the senior officers in a casual atmosphere and ask them questions about their careers and advancing through the ranks."
Despite the necessary information provided during the course, Demers and Kirkland believe the most important objective achieved was allowing the lieutenants to network with their peers.
"One person commented to us that it was just good to be around other lieutenants," Demers said. "It's different here than it is at a lot of other bases. At the end of the day, everyone goes in a hundred different directions. We're all scattered. This brings everyone together for a common purpose."
"LPDP also provides the very first opportunity to exercise an incredibly important skill for all officers: networking," he said. "No other forum brings together our new lieutenants, across career fields, and gives them the opportunity to interact. Friendships made are very likely to come in handy not only in the near future, but across the length of a full career."
The captains are committed to making sure future programs are tailored to meet the needs of the lieutenants.
"It's an evolving program," said Kirkland. "It's important that it's fun and worthwhile."
Demers and Kirkland plan to continue leading LPDP to make sure it's a value-added experience for the first-termers.
"It gives us the opportunity to be mentors," said Kirkland. "We have a part in shaping the next generation of Air Force officers."