3/22/2016--MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Once the Air Force's fledgling commissioned officers reach the rank of captain, they come to the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education for a five-week course to develop leadership capabilities ... and play dodge ball, sort of.
During the course, students learn how to create and execute doctrinal concepts with a hands-on approach called the functional leadership exercise, or FLEX.
"The students learn among other things the fundamental principles of air power," said Major Todd Klusek, 31st Student Squadron instructor. "When they go out and execute the order, they have to determine whether or not that was the right thing to do, or if there is a better execution out there. These strategies we teach them patterns what we really do every day in the military."
FLEX uses the quick decision making needed with a sport to teach lessons in war fighting.
"FLEX is kind of like a modified dodgeball where we use doctrine strategies used in everyday air power," said Capt. Ajay Dua, 492nd Fighter Squadron F-15 fighter pilot and student. "We simulate ground to air as well as air to ground executions, and we essentially try to take over the battlefield and gain air superiority."
The flights work on their strategies for one to two weeks and test their strategies during an initial FLEX game.
"For a lot of people who watch the game being played, they may see it as a volleyball or dodgeball game," Klusek said. "In reality, these captains put some time and effort into building a strategy that represents air power. They have a good time, but there is also a lot of learning involved."
The flights are broken up into different areas for each execution of the concept the Joint Air Relations Center, which is the lead member at the time giving direction to the other members.
"The JAOC dictates where the seven players will go out into the field, and there will be back-up teams," Dua said. "From there, the JAOC will tell the players which base to attack."
Since the course is for all captains within the Air Force, there is a diverse group of different job categories.
"This is important because of the many individuals who work in a job where they may or may not have an idea about what a controlled warfighter actually does," Dua said. "So this is a great opportunity to have those individuals get a hands-on experience with doctrinal concepts and giving them a look at what it is to be a warfighter in the Air Force."
Each flight earns points toward their credits for graduating from the five-week course.
"The FLEX provides a little bit more fun as far as sporting some athleticism and just being able to get outdoors and do competitive sports," Dua said.
For more information about the FLEX or the Squadron Officer School, visit their website at www.au.af.mil.