|Aerospace Officer Development Kicks Into Gear With Vigilant Programs |
Aerospace Officer Development Kicks Into Gear With Vigilant Programs
By Maj. LeWonnie Belcher, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs, 22 March 2000.
Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (AFPN) -- In order to promote the development of an aerospace force that understands air and space integration and how to effectively use space systems to defend America and its allies, Air Force Space Command has created several aerospace officer development initiatives known as Vigilant Programs.
"Our goal is to build a larger pool of highly qualified aerospace officers by providing opportunities to learn, and fully understand, how air and space systems can be fully integrated for optimal performance," according to Maj. Ron Huntley, chief of the new Aerospace Officer Development Section in the Personnel Directorate. "We want our officers to receive the depth and breadth of knowledge they'll need to move into senior leadership positions."
To prepare for rapidly evolving missions, future leaders will need the ability to integrate air, space, and information operations horizontally across the spectrum of aerospace capabilities. Two new programs have been established to support the professional development process -- Vigilant Look and Vigilant Scholar.
Vigilant Look is an intense one-week orientation program designed to give participants the Air Force Space Command "big picture" by providing senior leadership perspective and mentorship to officers at an early stage in their careers, according to Huntley. "The target audience is senior lieutenants and junior captains in all Air Force specialties -- not just 13S (space operations) officers," he said. Officers from outside the command will participate as well.
During Vigilant Look, approximately 20 officers will spend one-week touring AFSPC headquarters at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo.; Buckley Air National Guard Base, Denver, Colo.; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. Additionally, they will have an opportunity to visit the Space Warfare Center at Schriever AFB, and the USAF Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev.
"This program will give officers a look at how their jobs contribute to the overall aerospace mission and provide first-hand exposure to air and space integration activities. Our first Vigilant Look class will begin in July. Participants will be selected by their wing commanders," Huntley said.
The second program, Vigilant Scholar, is designed to build in-depth aerospace knowledge and expertise by sending 10 hand-picked captains and majors to attend an Air Force Institute of Technology-sponsored master's program in Aerospace and Information Operations. AFSPC is currently working with AFIT to define actual course content. "We envision a 12-month program consisting of courses in flight dynamics, computer network operations, space intelligence, and acquisition to name just a few," Huntley said.
The one-year program will culminate with the completion of a thesis developed in coordination with AFSPC directorates or the Space Warfare Center. Officers will work on high-visibility topics relevant to current challenges and future requirements in aerospace operations, he said.
Once the officers complete the program, they will be assigned to advanced academic degree billets where they're needed most; for example, the SWC, the focal point for air and space integration, or at AFSPC where requirements for systems are determined and subsequently fielded, Huntley said. Follow-on assignments at wing level and non-AFSPC organizations are also possible.
"This intense academic program develops a core of aerospace experts and will prepare future leaders for the technical demands of aerospace/information operations," said Lt. Gen. Don Cook, AFSPC's vice commander. "What's different about these programs is that we will open them up to the other major commands to continue our effort to promote air and space integration."
In addition to Vigilant Programs, the command will search for and manage AFSPC's participation in other aerospace integration opportunities. Two such opportunities are the Air Mobility Command's professional development programs -- Phoenix Hawk and Advanced Study of Air Mobility.
Phoenix Hawk is a two-year intern program designed to develop leaders with mobility experience, Huntley said. Participants spend the first year at the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill., learning how to organize and execute mobility missions. A second year is spent on the AMC headquarters staff, normally in the operations or plans and programs directorates.
"For the first time in the seven-year history of Phoenix Hawk, AFSPC officers are now able to participate in this outstanding officer professional development program," said Col. James Burling, AFSPC's chief of Assignments and Readiness.
ASAM is a one-year program conducted by the Air Mobility Warfare Center at Fort Dix, New Jersey, said Huntley. It is a fully accredited program that provides a broad foundation in all aspects of mobility including logistics, transportation, maintenance, and production management. Graduates receive a Master of Air Mobility degree from AFIT.
The next ASAM class is scheduled for June. Following completion of this program, officers will be assigned to an advanced academic degree billet.
"In 1999, Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters said his vision was one of 'the integration of our systems and people and an understanding of how air and space fit together to do our mission.' AFSPC's Aerospace Officer Development Section, Vigilant Programs, and other initiatives are a positive step toward making this vision a reality," Huntley said.