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From students to cadre

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Security forces Defenders from multiple units across Air Force Reserve Command participated in a four-mile ruck march on March 6, 2023, at Boston Mill, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. The march signified an informal graduation from a nine-week Integrated Defense Leadership Course cadre training program that was based at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.  

For Senior Master Sgt. Jason Knepper, AFRC security forces training manager, learning is never over, no matter the rank.

“IDLC is intended to plant the seed at all levels of Defenders to grow thinking combatants,” said Knepper.

This year’s cadre course was comprised of varying ranks of traditional reservists from across the country. During their training, Airmen gained leadership skills to mold a stronger, more resilient security forces.

“To ensure Defenders are prepared for the rigors of operational stress and conflict, we are building better Airmen that will better serve the needs of their teams and the nation,” said Knepper.

According to Knepper, IDLC is always evolving which means the cadre development process is too.

“IDLC is owned and executed by AFRC,” said Knepper. “That means we have the ability to quickly adjust the curriculum to emerging needs within the command, as we have done each year of the course’s existence.”

While this year’s cadre prepares to train a new wave of IDLC Defenders, Knepper stresses the importance of identifying when cadre members need help from their wingmen.

“As cadre, your students will be looking to you for answers,” said Knepper. “However, there will be times when you don’t have all the answers, and that’s alright. Rely on one another and learn from each other no matter your rank.”

For Tech. Sgt. Arica Sims, an IDLC cadre member assigned to the 910th SFS, the nine-week cadre development course was an eye-opening experience full of learning opportunities.

“Throughout our development course we were challenged through completing multiple impromptus,” said Sims. “This taught us to be able to quickly think on our feet and adjust to whatever challenges future students throw at us.”

Since becoming a cadre member, Sims is eager and ready to begin training this year’s IDLC students.

“IDLC will not be easy for most, but I believe all Defenders are more than capable of getting through it,” said Sims. “‘I can’t’ will not be an acceptable excuse from Defenders for me. I plan on changing the ‘I can’t’ to ‘I did.’

As Knepper and Sims embark on a new year of training, one thing remains essential: IDLC is the future of security forces. Through molding stronger, more resilient Airmen, the Air Force produces Defenders capable of conquering any challenge. But before any of that can happen, a select group of Defenders must first set out on their own journey, graduating from student to cadre.