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Operation Air Force equips future leaders at Moody AFB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Greg Nash
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Moody opened its doors to approximately 30 Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets from across the nation as part of Operation Air Force 2017 June 6 through 21.

The annual event gives cadets hands-on training experience and a glance at various mission assets at bases across the world. The program’s professional development tour is designed for cadets to broaden their view of career opportunities and mission operations before they fulfill their roles as future leaders.

“The Operation Air Force program is a huge benefit to cadets and the Air Force because it gives cadets a first-hand view of the breadth and complexity of the mission that can’t be replicated at their universities,” said Capt. Brint Ingersoll, OAF 2017 escort cadre. “Although the training, education and leadership experience they’ve acquired is designed to make them more well-rounded officers, seeing and understanding base operations will enhance their ability to eventually become better leaders of Airmen.

“For the cadets, who may have never set foot on an Air Force base, they can now see an installation’s resources up close and find out more about the career fields of their interests. The intent is for them to confirm or reassess what they want to pursue and the exposure to different support functions helps make this possible, which is extremely important.”

During their stay, the students got a chance to talk to pilots and fly in aircraft, see flight line maintenance operations, learn combative training and decontaminate mock biological hazardous material.

In addition, the cadets had a camaraderie event with base company-grade officers and also received several briefings on topics such as being a successful leader, increasing morale, managing people and handling crisis situations.

According to Ingersoll, having access to all these resources and conversations with people from a similar path will improve the cadets’ decision making skills as officers.

“No matter what career field they go in, the basic knowledge of the different Air Force specialty codes, units and private organizations will serve them well as they will benefit from knowing what resources to rely on when they face difficult or unfamiliar tasks,” Ingersoll said.

“Coming in as a new officer can be a challenge, especially leading people who may know more about a job function than yourself,” Ingersoll added. “However, the opportunity to understand the full spectrum of Moody’s unique mission will be a huge deciding factor for what they plan on doing. I can tell them about my AFSC or other jobs but nothing is better than hearing directly from the Airmen entrenched in the fight.”

For rising sophomore Tamarchus Burley, a Fourth Class cadet from Jackson State University’s Det. 006, the 23rd Security Forces Squadron’s military working dog training facility was exactly where he wanted to be.

“I really enjoyed seeing the K-9 unit,” Burley said. “Volunteering [as a mock threat] during the bite demonstration was also very exciting. Seeing how security forces handles crisis situations during the tasing exercise was also a painfully fun learning experience. I liked seeing the daily operations of a military cop, but the most impressive thing was seeing how the Airmen here still had fun with some of the most stressful jobs. It was a very eye-opening experience.”

Other cadets who’ve frequented Air Force installations relayed the same excitement as they were awestruck from the behind the scenes glimpse of Moody’s mission. For Cadet Col. Kathleen Dickerson, Louisiana State University Detachment 310, the Ops AF visit was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“When I first heard about Operation Air Force, I practically begged my cadre leaders to nominate me for the selection process,” Dickerson said. “I had a general idea of what [career] I wanted to do but didn’t know what order to put jobs on my dream list. I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to see what was out there.”

Although she grew up with a military background and visited multiple bases, she relished the rare occasion of seeing Moody’s mission up close and personal.

“It was really unique seeing how all the different AFSC’s and units depend on each other,” Dickerson said. “Seeing the collaboration and good relationships with all the units was amazing. I learned so much, especially from the CGO’s. Talking with them about the graduation and commissioning processes as well as getting ready for our first duty stations helped me mentally prepare for my last school year.”

Dickerson, who will become LSU’s Det. 310’s vice wing commander, hopes to instill the lessons learned here to improve her leadership skills to be a personnelist or public affairs officer.