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Fourth Air Force Hots Inaugural Foundations Course of the Airmanship Continuum

  • Published
  • By Stanley Thompson

The Air Force Reserve Command’s (AFRC) inaugural class for the Foundations Courses of the Airmanship continuum, a significant milestone in our Professional Development Program, was held here at March Air Reserve Base, California, from 13-17 May 2024. This five-day course was led by Chief Master Sgt Cassandra Obermuller, Senior Enlisted Leader (SEL), 514th Force Support Squadron, and on loan to AFRC’s Professional Development Center at Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, as the Foundations Program Manager. As the host wing, the 452d Air Mobility Wing team invited over 44 airmen from the Air Force, the Air Force Reserve, and the Air National Guard to partake in the new professional enhancement course envisioned in “A Letter to the Force” in September of 2023.

The former Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Charles Brown Jr., now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief Master Sgt Joanne Bass, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (retired), played a pivotal role in the development of this professional enhancement program. They sent a letter to the Airmen of the U.S. Air Force describing how our learned knowledge remained a competitive advantage to our national defense needs. They wanted to ask themselves the question, “Are we doing enough professional enhancement type training, and will we be ready for the fight?” They discovered that the development strategies which taught our enlisted force through the Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME), and upgrade training models are what has made our airmen the force they are today. However, as times change, we progress, and progression leads to the need to seek improvement in both speed and unity since both exist in an age that dominates the battle space.

To integrate teams in achieving Agile Combat Employment and empower Multi-Capable Airmen through mission command, significant changes were made in the Enlisted Force Development (EFD) Action Plan. This plan was commissioned to reimagine via exploration, an ecosystem as laid out in the Line of Effort (LOE) number five, Force Development Ecosystem. The EFD Action Plan has been updated to reflect the Enlisted Airmanship Continuum (100-900), marking a new era in our training program.

The new course design institutes the Foundations Courses, which replace the base-level Professional Enhancement Seminars and become the prerequisite for attending EPME courses. The design also supports leadership readiness in critical positions by preparing the Job Qualification Standard (JQS). Lastly, PME will become on-demand by providing unrestricted access to pertinent content for all Airmen.

A spectrum between airmanship 100 and airmanship 900 revealed the “right learning at the right time” determination as presented in LOE 5 laid out the following: 100 = Basic Military Training (BMT), 200 = Technical School, 300 = the first Foundations Course, Airmanship 300 which is also a prerequisite of Airman Leadership School (ALS), 400 = ALS, 500 = the second Foundations Course, Airmanship 500 which is the prerequisite of Non-Commissioned Officers Academy (NCOA), 600 = NCO Academy, 700 = the third Foundations Course, Airmanship 700 which is the prerequisite of the SNCO Academy, 800 = the SNCO Academy, and finally 900 = the Chief Master Sgt level of professional enhancement course.

All three airmanship courses were taught in this five-day intensive by a joint team of REGAF and Reserve facilitators, including Obermuller. The first four days of each class focus on a centralized learning base, regardless of the commands they are in, such as AFRC or ANG. “The fifth day is the major command (MAJCOM) day of learning. It is the day that students learn how the MAJCOM they are assigned to plays a role in the fight. For AFRC, history, mission capabilities, and the unique requirements of navigating the Reserve coalesce into a cohesive story. Obermuller says, “On the one hand, it is an opportunity for the airmanship 300 students to learn how their actions and goals at the tactical level support national objectives and how the diverse skills from their civilian lives increase the effectiveness of mission command.” “On the other hand,” she says, “the airmanship 500 and 700 students learn more about leading and creating teams, the mission command concepts, and AFRC’s role in the Great Power Competition (GPC). Their primary focus was learning how to translate their commander’s intent into executable actions to achieve mission objectives.”

In addition to the over 44 airmen in attendance, 17+ NCOs and SNCOs from around the Fourth Air Force are also attending the course to obtain their credentials as course facilitators. This historic inaugural course begins here and continues to the 10th Air Force, followed by the 22nd Air Force, with 55+ fully trained facilitators in addition to the number already trained.

Obermuller reminds us that each wing’s command chief owns this program and, through these courses, has the unique opportunity to maximize readiness and lethality to improve organizational performance. Albert Einstein believed that opportunity was present in everything that some thought was complex. “The Foundations course is the first step in improving the Enlisted Professional Development ecosystem. These courses will close development gaps and expand airmen’s knowledge through dynamic content, ultimately building airmen across the Air Force that are operationally indistinguishable,” she says, “who doesn’t want that future?”