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Tomorrow's leaders gain insight from Team Seymour

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Micky Bazaldua
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
More than 30 cadets from the Air Force Academy will be visiting Seymour Johnson Air Force Base this summer as a part of Operation Air Force.
Operation Air Force provides a unique opportunity for cadets to experience the Air Force first-hand. Through this program, they will see how Airmen work together to accomplish the mission.
"The memories from Operation Air Force stick with Academy and ROTC graduates for a lifetime, and hopefully some of the lessons learned do too," said Capt. Scott Charlton, 334th Fighter Squadron, who is the program's director for the base. 

The program is broken down into three different cycles. There is a Non-Comm program for Academy and AFROTC members in or near their sophomore year, a Third Lieutenant program for juniors and the Brevet Lieutenant program for seniors.

Members in the Non-Comm program participate in enlisted careers by performing specific tasks and are assigned to senior non-commissioned officers to help foster their appreciation for enlisted teamwork, duties and culture while learning the value a SNCO brings to a junior officer. 

"In an academic environment, it can be hard to find true perspective on how the operational Air Force works, but OAF gives a glimpse into what real life will be like as an Air Force officer," said 1st Lt. Vanessa Fridley of the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, who was a cadet in 2001. "The Non-Comm program in particular is especially important due to the enlisted experience. I truly think it is important for officers to experience life as an enlisted member in order to make informed and fair decisions in the future." 

Third Lieutenant members are assigned to company grade officers to gain experience in the roles they play on base, along with gaining knowledge of their responsibilities and expectations. They are exposed to operational experience, support experience and mentoring sessions, allowing them to gain first hand experience of working in a specific type of unit. 

Participants of the Brevet Lieutenant program experience internship and mentorship through career-specific practices in an area of interest. They will be assigned to an officer supervisor who will train and guide them in the performance of CGO duties. 

These cadets will have the same expectations levied upon them as a new lieutenant within that career field, and learn what it means to be an effective CGO according to the Operational Air Force Program overview. 

"It's a great opportunity to prepare a solid foundation for new officers in their efforts of adopting the Air Force's way of life," said Tech. Sgt. Frank Larkins of the Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight, who has two cadets shadowing him. "Is it beneficial? Yes, but only if the opportunity of preparing future commanders is taken seriously. I think it's a good time to recruit by showing off our individual unit's part of the mission on how we fly, fight, and win and how we continue to put bombs on target on time."