CAP members learn leadership concepts at Maxwell



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


10/28/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala -- Fifty-seven Civil Air Patrol members attended National Staff College held at Maxwell last week, focusing on leadership, strategic planning, the CAP-USAF relationship as well as the working relationships with state and local agencies, according to Col. Virginia Nelson, National Staff College deputy director.

"The school is designed to enhance the transition from leadership at lower level echelons to becoming leaders at the executive level," she said. "We hope our graduates receive the tools which will enable them to succeed as they accept senior leader assignments."

Having the National Staff College at Maxwell allowed CAP access to the educational resources Maxwell offers, including the facilities and faculty, Nelson said.

"While at Maxwell, our students were able to take advantage of learning from some local experts, including Dr. Stef Eisen, director of the USAF Negotiation Center of Excellence; Dr. Gene Kamena, Air War College, Mr. Michael Ritz, director of the USAF Public Affairs Center of Excellence; and Dr. John Kline, director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development," Nelson said. She noted a highlight was hearing from retired Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., the commander of the 8th Air Force, at the graduation banquet held at the officers' club.

While attending classes and listening to lectures is a key part of the college, the participants also were expected to demonstrate their understanding by putting concepts into action.

"It's important for (CAP leaders) to have the chance to network with their counterparts from other parts of the country," Nelson said. "Students were divided into nine- to 10-person seminars and given a practicum exercise that focused on CAP's governance. Each seminar spent many hours outside of class writing their reports. On Friday they gave oral presentations to the school provost, retired Maj. Gen. George Harrison."

Lt. Col. Stephen Howard, an officer in the Alabama Wing who attended the college, said the event is much more than attending seminars and honing leadership skills.
"CAP is like a second family. It's great to see the instant camaraderie with people from different states," he said. "It's more than a learning experience. You see old friends and you make new ones."

Nelson agrees that the camaraderie is a critical component of the college.
"It's very good for us to know each other," she said. "We have members from 27 different states (at National Staff College,) and this is an excellent opportunity for them to network and discuss issues."

Nelson said she hopes attendees will have all of the tools they need to keep CAP running smoothly and better accomplish CAP's missions.

"Civil Air Patrol has three missions: aerospace education, the cadet program and emergency services. National Staff College graduates will be leading volunteers working in each of these areas," she said. "They should now have an advanced understanding of CAP's organization which will enable them to be more effective once they return home. The techniques they learned should help them as they plan strategically for CAP's future."