Chief’s Leadership Academy completed Strategic Leader Course beta, key investment in developing enlisted strategic thinkers

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kim Bender
  • Air University Public Affairs

The Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Academy completed the beta course for the Strategic Leader Course April 1, 2022 on Gunter Annex, Alabama, providing targeted development and investment in growing enlisted strategic thinkers.  

The goal of the SLC is to prepare Senior Enlisted Leaders for joint, all domain warfighting excellence through education, inspiration and professional development.

In the 2019 Enlisted Development Survey, a direct question was asked to chief master sergeants serving in strategic-level organizations, “What prepared you the most to operate on a strategic level?” The consensus of the survey was best summarized by one chief as “more is caught than taught”.   

Besides wing-level training for Command Chief positions, there has been no specific training or deliberate development offered to prepare chief master sergeants entering strategic-level positions. The Strategic Leader Course was designed for chief master sergeants serving in or vectored for roles in the strategic environment such as the Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands and Numbered Air Forces.

“SLC will fill a crucial professional development gap to increase the strategic readiness, professional agility, and enterprise-level leadership abilities of our Senior Enlisted Leaders,” said Chief Master Sgt. Daryl Hogan Jr., Chief Leadership Academy commandant. “Countless general officers, center directors, and headquarters commanders look to our E-9s for advice and counsel, and they normally deliver. However, this course is a concerted educational investment in our people to grow confident and effective enlisted strategic thinkers who will serve in MAJCOM Functional Manager, Career Field Manager, A-staff, and J-staff roles.” 

The course will focus on and develop graduates to perform in the following areas:

•  Military and National Security Strategy: Advise and lead from an informed perspective on varying strategy and security concerns with emphasis on cross-cultural awareness and joint all-domain operations.

•  Organizations, Functions, and Domains: Represent and personify Air Force expertise in civil and military contexts with deeper knowledge of service organization, functions, and domains.  

•  Enterprise Leadership: Approach complex issues with mental flexibility, adaptability and agile cognitive strategies to create divergent possibilities and solution paths that maximize human capital potential, culture and mission needs.

Chief master sergeants currently serving in strategic-level positions within the Air Force, Space Force, and Air Force Reserves were brought in as students during the beta test. CLA will use student feedback from the SLC beta to finalize the syllabus and curriculum and aims to be at full operating capability by August 2022. The course is currently projected to be offered two times a year with a capacity of 50 students per class.  

“Our CLA team worked tirelessly for well over a year, through COVID restrictions while still hosting our Chief Leadership Course ten times a year and Group SEL Course 5 times a year, to bring this SLC educational experience to our Senior Enlisted Leaders across the enterprise,” said Hogan. “It has been a Herculean effort that will strengthen the enlisted leader’s input into our national defense and warfighting efforts for years to come.”

The inaugural Senior Leader Course is scheduled for August 2022. SLC is expected to span a total of three weeks with two-weeks at Gunter Annex and approximately a week in the National Capital Region. Student selection and attendance into SLC will be managed and vetted by MAJCOM Command Chiefs and Combatant Command SELs. 

Chief Master Sgt. Mathew Coltrin, 7th Bomb Wing command chief stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, served as a beta student for SLC. He echoed sentiments that previously, SELs learned and receivedthe educational tools needed after they were already serving in roles at their assignment. 

“SLC is the right course to help the next generation of Chiefs get the exposure needed to effectively lead and advise at a strategic level,” Coltrin said.