New civilian leadership training heading to Maxwell

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Civilian Acculturation and Leadership Training will begin here in the fall, offering Air Force civilians much of the same curricula used to shape the service's new officers.

The two-week CALT program places civilian students in Air University Holm Center's Officer Training School dorms, the dining facility and classrooms.

In those classrooms, civilian interns and graduates of the Student Career Employment Program will find lessons on Air Force core values, leadership authority and responsibility, Air Force functions and capabilities, communication and more.

"Training is great for everybody," said Col. Terry Djuric, commander of the Holm Center. "When we say that Maxwell is the center for intellectual and leadership development, that is true for civilians as well. [CALT] is going to be a short version of initial officer training [OTS]; a short version of initial enlisted leadership training ... but it is the same core leadership subjects that a civilian would get."

The CALT program began as a chief of staff initiative.

"This is truly a first-of-its kind opportunity for our civilians," said Joseph McDade, Force Development director for the deputy chief of staff for Manpower and Personnel in a July Air Force Print News article. "This in-residence acculturation and leadership training program ensures a balanced portfolio of leadership development for all Airmen -- officers, enlisted and civilians."

Holm Center staff members began working on the program in February, said Dr. Charles Nath, director of curriculum for the Holm Center. In addition to the fast-paced resident program, attendees will take the Air Force Material Command's New Employee Orientation Course, a five module distance learning course, as a prerequisite to CALT. An Officer Training School model was chosen because of the school's heavy emphasis on leadership.

The first class of 25 students arrives here Oct. 27 to begin their OTS experience.

Colonel Djuric views allowing the civilians to study at the OTS complex as a two-fold benefit. First, it allows interaction between the officer trainees and the civilian students, and it functions as a cost-saving measure as the two groups share facilities and classroom resources.

"It is a shared experience with officers eating in the same facilities, [and] living in the same dormitories," she said. "There is an intrinsic value you get outside the classroom."

During fiscal 2009, 100 students will graduate from the program. Dr. Nath believes the course has the potential to educate several hundred civilian students a year.

The goal of CALT is to develop leadership capabilities in the civilian workforce, primarily those who will hold supervisory, leadership positions in the future, Dr. Nath said. The curriculum has three main components: leadership, communication and profession of arms.

Leadership skills compose about 50 to 60 percent of the curriculum. The students will spend little time in the auditorium as most of the instruction will occur in the interactive seminar rooms. Each part of the curriculum will culminate into an exercise where the students employ what they learn during the discussions.

"Most of the course will be about leadership and supervisory skills, from counseling to writing bullets to giving oral presentations," said Ricky Lewis, Holm Center curriculum manager. "We even have an element in the course we borrowed from Squadron Officer College's Air and Space Basic Course that covers wargaming, the fundamentals of force packaging, and employment of air and space forces.

CALT serves as the beginning for the Air Force civilian education spectrum, which can send civilians back to Maxwell several times during their careers.

"Civilians have always been incorporated into SOS [Squadron Officer School]," Colonel Djuric said. "Even when I was an SOS student, I had civilians in my flight room. As I moved through the Air Force, I realized there were leadership development opportunities for civilians, but a very select few. I think this program is going to get our civilians to know that the Air Force believes in them enough to be able to give them initial training, and then show them that they can come back to Air University for leadership development courses, just like the officers and enlisted personnel."

To be eligible for the program, civilian employees must be in the COPPER CAP Program, which hires contract specialists only, or the PALACE Acquire Program, which hires from various career fields. Also eligible are graduates of the Student Career Employment Program.

Colonel Djuric also advised wing and squadron commanders to lookout for potential candidates for the program.

"It is a great opportunity for the Air Force," she said. "A lot of times we get distracted, and we really need to recognize our civilians. The civilians really are the continuity.

"As we migrate military members through different jobs and progress them to different bases and then deploy them, the civilians are the ones that keep our mission on track."