AFA Delivers Competitive Advantage to Airmen at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

July 19, 2023   |   By Patrick Reardon

AFA’s General Jimmy Doolittle Leadership Center (DLC) held a seven-day leadership training program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, in July. Entitled “Lead, Develop, Care: Proactive Leadership for Competitive Advantage,” the program was developed to equip leaders at every level with the people-centric leadership skills needed to address the challenges of near-peer competition.

“Leadership is a force multiplier,” said DLC Director Dr. Patrick Donley, a retired Air Force colonel and former National War College professor. “Concepts like Agile Combat Employment (ACE), Mission Command, and multi-capable Airmen haven’t been executed since we were island-hopping in the Pacific during World War II. The decentralized nature of ACE will require our Airmen to practice leadership skills that most haven’t even seen modeled before, much less taught. Either we train them to lead differently or else we force them to ‘figure it out’ on their own.  As capable as today’s young leaders are, we owe it to them to provide new tools that facilitate success in the emerging security environment. The leadership model we teach, called Lead, Develop, Care, is one way to provide Airmen and Guardians with a competitive advantage against our adversaries.” 

The Lead, Develop, Care (LDC) model was designed by Terry Cook, a leadership coach with decades of experience who now works closely with Donley and AFA’s Doolittle Leadership Center. The two have adapted the model for military and defense personnel, particularly leaders in the Air and Space Forces. 

“In contrast to a workshop that provides a ‘grab bag of tools’ or focuses on the theory or ethics of leadership,” Donley said, “the LDC model offers a pragmatic leadership framework for how to ‘do’ leadership on a daily basis. We want leaders to be proactive and comprehensive in their leadership approach and to possess a leadership algorithm that enables them to capitalize on opportunities in a systematic way.”

Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach invited the DLC to offer an abbreviated workshop to 17 current and future Squadron Commanders during HQ PACAF’s squadron commander course. Donley and Cook also delivered three eight-hour workshops to nearly 60 Airmen from the 15th Wing: one class was designed for company grade officers and senior noncommissioned officers, another worked exclusively with NCOs, and one was a combined workshop with Airmen ranging from E-2 to O-1, plus a Guardian, a Sailor, an Army officer, and a DOD civilian.

DLC Director Dr. Patrick Donley facilitates a leader development workshop for 15th Wing non-commissioned officers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

In a survey following the courses, 80 percent of the attendees reported that the training was “extremely helpful” to their leadership development. According to Donley, a common and unexpected piece of feedback he received at the end of each course was that attendees wished the seminar was longer. 

“I was put in a leadership position and was not given tools,” one Airman responded in the survey. “I go to these types of seminars all the time, but this was the first one that made me think how I can change instead of how I can change the organization.” 

“This course needs to be heard by the entire force,” said another. “It is the best eight hours I have spent in years. I truly believe if we had base facilitators to teach this exact material, our force would be so much better.” 

Indeed, Hickam is just the first stop on the DLC’s tour of USAF installations around the world. Donley and the DLC are scheduled to bring the program to seven more Air Force and Space Force bases between July and the end of September: one in Nevada, two in Alaska, two in Colorado, and two in South Korea. 

“The namesake of AFA’s leadership center is Jimmy Doolittle for a reason. The ‘spirit of Jimmy’ is leadership,” Donley said. “Getting after concepts like ACE and multi-capable Airmen starts by getting after leadership. Leadership is in demand everywhere you look. What a privilege it is for AFA and the DLC to help equip men and women to meet that demand more effectively than ever.”