Commentary: flight commander course reflection

  • Published
  • By Capt. Michelle Bell, 19th Medical Group
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

I feel privileged I was given the opportunity to participate in the flight leadership course and network with other flight leaders at Little Rock AFB. The four-day course was structured to give flight leaders a glimpse of the resources the Air Force and Team Little Rock has for our Airmen and their families, and also to help us individually develop into well rounded, knowledgeable flight leaders.


I am currently the flight commander of the Physical Therapy Clinic; a small, five-person shop, consisting of one civilian and five Airmen. I have been at Little Rock for about four months, and this assignment is my first leadership role since I’ve been in the Air Force.


The course started off with a personality test. I immediately thought, “Oh great, another personality test! I already know I’m a green, orange, blue, gold…” Well, it’s not always about learning your personality, it’s about knowing your people. Knowing what motivates them, knowing strengths, weaknesses, what makes your people tick! I feel like this set the tone for the rest of the course and was brought up frequently regarding how we communicate with our subordinates, peers, and higher leadership.


We had the opportunity to interact with many panels and guest speakers to include key spouses, the AFRC, the Education Center, first sergeants, The Rising 6, squadron and group commanders, and also the 19th Air Wing commander, Colonel Donohue. The panels gave us the opportunity to ask the “hard questions” and get the perspective of others regarding leadership successes and shortcomings at the flight level.


I appreciate that the course coordinator also engaged the enlisted flight leaders in the course. I believe most officers in leadership would agree that decisions are not made without consulting our flight chiefs first. Having the perspective and conversation laterally from enlisted to officers in the course really opened up the communication lines - a huge part of the discussion in this course.


Communication is important in any organization, and breakdown in communication can result in mission failure. A large majority of the panels during the course discussed how communication failures bring down morale and efficacy of the mission. This is a huge point I have brought back to my flight and also discussed with my squadron leadership.


While not every topic applied to my career field or leadership level specifically, I appreciate how the course provided valuable information that allows me to better understand other career fields. For example, readiness is at the forefront of our home mission in the Air Force and here at Little Rock.

From my experience, readiness needs differ from base to base and from the medical to line side. The briefings helped me understand the member eligibility and processes for deployment tasking that I have never been exposed to as a medical officer.


I would definitely recommend Airmen, officers and enlisted, who are stepping into the flight leadership role attend this course in the future. The course gave me many tools to utilize in my next couple years as a flight commander, and I know the lessons I learned will help me grow as a leader.