Air Force ROTC ‘Leadership Laboratories’ Cultivate Skills

April 19, 2020
Gaining experience

April 20, 2020

Since its establishment as a separate branch of the armed forces in 1947, the United States Air Force has provided protection for the nation through the highest level of aerial support and intelligence.

Members of the Air Force hold themselves to the highest integrity while serving the country, and rise to the occasion in moments when adversity strikes. 

One of the most crucial elements required in day-to-day operations of the Air Force is leadership.

The Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in the SDSU College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, known as Detachment 075, continually gears future officers to establish, shape, and maintain leadership. Part of the program’s curriculum for current cadets offers what are called Leadership Laboratories. 

Leadership laboratories are specialized classes which provide hands on experience so that the next generation of Air Force officers better understand the different functions of military leadership, and the tools needed to ensure a successful career. They allow these cadets to get a real grasp of what the military environment and organizational structure is like.

Most importantly, leadership laboratories place an emphasis on developing leadership skills. Cadets go through exercises where they put themselves to the test accomplishing different tasks. 

“This is a great opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes in a threat free environment,” Col. John Grimm, Commander of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 075, said. “It’s to see what works for them and what doesn’t work in these different problem solving environments.”

The lowerclassmen run through assessments planned out by upperclassmen on a weekly basis. Seniors and juniors decide what would be beneficial for the entire class since they are the most familiar with the program. Senior cadet Jacob Hoppe said his time with the laboratories was crucial to growing as a leader.

“I’ve had leadership experiences before in workplaces and sports, but nothing compares to this just because the sole focus of what we do is leadership cultivation and it’s been really beneficial,” Hoppe said.

Some of the different skills cadets develop in leadership lab are effective communication, planning and organization, enhancing physical fitness, and knowledge of military customs and courtesy. Throughout the entire existence of this program these weekly sessions have always been held in person. Detachment 075 had to change its course following a university wide transition to virtual platforms in efforts to aid against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the situation escalating, the Air Force ROTC program was prepared to handle and adjust to the changing conditions and the program continues to be up and running by utilizing Zoom. Cadets host weekly sessions to meet their semester long objectives from home. 

“Even if it hasn’t necessarily been done before, that’s kind of the test of leadership, to see if they’re able to navigate the challenges that come about when they try to change something that has been the same for many years,” Educational Officer and Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies Capt. Taylor Patterson said.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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