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Three-day course sharpens flight commanders’ edge

  • Published
  • By Eric M. White
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Air University's Flight Commander's Edge course returned to Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, Feb. 6-8, 2023. 

Approximately 40 members of the 910th Airlift Wing, composed of a mix of senior enlisted members and junior officers, attended the course which combines a selection of leadership development topics with base-specific education. 

First Lt. Christopher Reich, 910th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director of operations, was the logistics officer for the course. He worked with Capt. Rob Reader, 910th Security Forces Squadron commander, and Senior Master Sgt. Eric Kudro, 910th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief, to coordinate Flight Commander’s Edge.

“Our goal is to make sure our graduates are equipped and motivated so that they can strengthen their squadron by leading, developing, managing and communicating with confidence and competence,” said Reich. “We want them to take their squadrons to the next level.”

The students learned about what it means to be a flight commander, the importance of emotional intelligence and self-awareness in leadership, how to administer progressive discipline in accordance with regulations, how to tackle tough problems, communication, time management, ethics and a variety of other topics designed to strengthen holistic leadership. 

Maj. Jeffrey Lichlyter, the 910th Airlift Wing’s full-time chaplain, attended the event as a student. He’s excited to bring the lessons he learned back to his staff members. 

“Life is but a vapor,” said Lichlyter. “I need to make sure my people are equipped enough to take it. Not just equipped enough, but well-equipped to pick up the ball and carry out the mission. I think when Airmen see that you’re training them, but also that they’re valued, it changes their whole perspective.”

The chaplain is energized to multiply the impact of the course by instilling some of the same lessons in his staff members. The course’s lead mentor, Brig. Gen. Leslie Hadley, 18th Air Force mobilization assistant to the commander, agrees that the ripple effect on units is one of the greatest values of Flight Commander’s Edge. 

“This is a great course to do a little self-reflection, to know yourself,” said Hadley. “Part of knowing yourself first is knowing what your strengths are, what your limitations are. And when you know that you can take that into your job, because then you know what you need to improve and what you’re really good at already.”

Beyond knowing oneself as a leader, Hadley stressed the importance of also knowing one’s people.

“What works for some Airmen, to articulate and relate to them, doesn’t work for all Airmen,” the general said. “So when I say, ‘know yourself and know your job and your people,’ this kind of brings it all to the front line in how we relate to that and how we max perform our Airmen. Cause as you heard me say, the human is the weapon system.”

There’s an adage that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Beyond the immediate impact of helping emerging 910th Airlift Wing leaders accelerate readiness and equip their Airmen for success, flight commanders at the course gained a greater edge in their ability to retain high-quality talent, preserving the Air Force’s significant investment in training.