BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Company grade officers and senior non-commissioned officers engaged with the Center for Junior Officers (CJO) from the U.S. Military Academy in a first-ever Joint Leadership Development on Sept. 25.
U.S. Army Captain Chad Plenge, CJO operations officer and instructor, provided insight and education on the Army’s approach to growing and developing young leaders in the service.
“We have worked with multiple DoD entities and other government organizations, such as the Department of Homeland Security,” said Plenge. “However, this is the first engagement we have had with a sister service.”
Plenge’s presentation of the CJO curriculum included challenging assumptions, the importance of character as a basis of leadership through law and ethics lessons, sharing the Army’s leader development model used as a formula to grow individuals, approaches to decision making and biases that can hold back leaders or teams, how to improve decision-making, and walking through real-world leadership challenges Army officers have faced.
“What I found most beneficial from this engagement was the chance to broaden my view on leadership development beyond the scope of Air Force norms,” said Capt. Justine Wolff, 9th Munitions Squadron operations officer.
Wolff also stated that while the Army’s way of executing the mission may not always work in the Air Force or her career field, she can take away new perspectives on optimizing and enhancing the mission and human performance in the unit.
“As a young Lieutenant my unit worked closely with an Air Force organization while deployed in Afghanistan, and there were many growing pains early in our relationships due to a lack of understanding in strengths or culture,” said Plenge. “Luckily, both organizations were willing to learn from each other and formed an unstoppable team. I look back at that experience and realize how easily we could have failed.”
Plenge stated that engagements with sister services, like the one hosted at Beale, can be a key way to bridge the gaps similar to his experience.
“In my opinion, to increase the effectiveness of our Air Force leaders in the joint environment, we must have ample opportunities to learn from other services throughout our career,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Brady, 9th Munitions Squadron commander, and CGO Counsel advisor. “The fundamental notion of this seminar is to explore and frame our leadership development with a fresh and different point of view provided by one of the other military branches.”
Brady emphasized the long-term intent is that engagements like this will offer new insight and perspectives in the face of a common challenge for all DoD leaders, both officer and enlisted—leading people to carry out national objectives, and if called to do so, win wars.
“I met many fantastic leaders during my visit and left with an even greater understanding of how the Air Force operates,” said Plenge. “I hope I was able to do the same for everyone in attendance, and we hope to use the powerful lessons shared to spread the word throughout the other services.”
The Center for Junior Officers strives toward its mission to “…empower junior officers to connect and learn, both individually and collectively, improving their effectiveness and advancing the Profession by enabling professional connections and developing technologies to support them.”