HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA develops civilian leaders, immerse with 52nd FW

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Recently, six civilian leaders from Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa visited Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as part of the Civilian Leadership Development Program.

The civilian Airmen discovered the critical role the 52nd Fighter Wing plays in deterring adversaries and defending our European Allies during their Oct. visit.

“The CLDP provided us the rare opportunity to deep dive into the 52nd FW mission,” said Joseph Piechota, USAFE-AFAFRICA logistics, engineering and force protection pavements engineer. “The one-day experience allotted us time with the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape section. We also witnessed an F-16 Fighting Falcon performing an integrated combat turn and heard the teeth-chattering sound of an F-16 afterburner during a test engine run.”

The overall goal of the CLDP is to broadened participants knowledge of the USAFE-AFAFRICA mission, structure, culture, and business activities of key organizations.

“This was a unique opportunity that allowed the CLDP program members to see a part of USAFE-AFAFRICA and the Air Force that they had never experienced, which will make them more well-rounded and better leaders in our Air Force,” said Russell Oster, 52nd Mission Support Group deputy director. “The CLDP’s visit gave participants a look at the wing’s F-16 Fighting Falcon operations, maintenance, and support as well as an understanding of deterrence, Saber Agile Combat Employment, and integrated base defense.”

“The men and women of the 52nd FW are world class and it was an honor to spend time with them,” added Piechota.

Participants also improve their management and leadership skills through briefings, course workshops, civilian industry tours and projects. 

“We established the CLDP last spring based on the results of a roundtable with senior civilians in our headquarters,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Ireland, USAFE-AFAFRICA chief of staff. “We identified a desire to develop our mid-grade civilian teammates by showing them the breadth of our command’s mission, as an investment in their future.”

By introducing different mission sets and coupling it with exposure to leaders across the command, this program has proven invaluable for the civilian work force within the headquarters.

“The CLDP program gives participants a unique hands-on experience of various mission sets as well as unique access to high-level conversations,” said Erica Vega, USAFE-AFAFRICA public affairs. “This level of mentorship is not very common among civilians and we are excited and grateful for the opportunity USAFE-AFAFRICA is giving us.”

According to Ireland, because this was the first year for the program in USAFE-AFAFRCIA and the challenges with operating in a COVID environment, only a small group from HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA civilians were selected. He hopes to expand the program in the future.

“Hopefully, COVID-permitting, next year we can start to take nominations from the wings to help round-out this great opportunity for more of our civilian workforce,” Ireland said. “I expect that we would be soliciting nominations for next year’s program sometime after Memorial Day 2021.”