The General James Doolittle Leadership Center

November 13, 2019

By Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.)

As we share thanks for our many blessings that stem from the opportunity to live in freedom this Thanksgiving, I am again reminded of General James Doolittle, who founded our Air Force Association on the “Spirit of a Volunteer.” 

American freedom is built on the backs of those who volunteered and answered the nation’s call. And as Gen Doolittle said years ago, nothing is stronger than the heart of our AFA volunteers. We can never thank them enough.

Gen Doolittle’s vision to promote educated public advocacy for our Air Force, Airmen and our USAF family endures to this day thanks to the many volunteers who believe in its critical mission.  Airmen and their families continue to serve around the world with selfless commitment and courage in the face of daunting threats. They need our support more than ever!

That’s why your AFA leadership is embarking on a new, dynamic initiative to modernize our association for the future and engage the Air Force, our volunteers and our industry partners in a great new undertaking: We call it the General James Doolittle Leadership Center. 

Rooted in Air Force leadership’s recognition of the importance of leadership development, as evidenced by the Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development, recent changes to the officer promotion system, and a clarion call from industry to develop their leaders of tomorrow, the Doolittle Leadership Center answers a critical need for collaborative interaction among aspiring military and industry leaders. 

The Doolittle Leadership Center will provide focused outreach and collaboration between rising Air Force leaders, our volunteers, and our industry partners inviting educational and professional leadership development courses, seminars, and other opportunities to sharpen their skills and know-how and help prepare them for the tough challenges ahead. 

This includes on-site and remotely shared leadership development seminars and wargames with realistic international threat scenarios to present unique opportunities for active duty USAF and civilian industry counterparts to work hard problems together. Such events will build both shared knowledge and trust and help improve industry’s ability to provide our warrior Airmen the weapons systems they need to fight and win against increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

The Doolittle Leadership Center will also enable opportunities for senior leader interaction with AFA Chapters and Airmen around the world through two-way video teleconferencing, adding superior reach for USAF leaders when they speak at AFA events.  Increasing this two-way dialogue will strengthen understanding throughout our wider Air Force and AFA community. 

Over the past nine months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet up in person with many of you. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Gen Doolittle had it right: Nothing is stronger than the heart of our AFA volunteers. He also had it right when he said this: “If we should have to fight, we should be prepared to do so from the neck up instead of from the neck down.” Our General James Doolittle Leadership Center will ensure that remains the case, by investing our resources and energy in the education and professional leadership development of the world’s greatest Air Force and the Airmen who make it great!