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317th AW leads AF in mission-command initiative, empowers NCOs

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Within the last six months, three NCOs from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, have exemplified the Air Force’s mission command initiative by serving as a team lead during off-base exercises, a position typically reserved for company grade officers and SNCOs.

Mission command is about empowering Airmen to excel in complex and dynamic environments by ensuring a widespread understanding of the commander’s intent. This doctrine emphasizes a decentralized execution of the mission by delegating authorities to junior members, streamlining processes and creating flexible and effective teams.

The 317th Airlift Wing is preparing Airmen to excel in this decentralized environment through their Lethal Expeditionary Airman Development course, which targets the development of maintenance NCOs. Throughout the course, Airmen both further hone their maintenance expertise and develop strategic-level experience from multiple agencies and entities.

“The LEAD course combines the workload of multiple career fields while painting a picture of what the upper structure of leadership deals with within our chain,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hughes, 317th AMXS crew chief. “An opportunity like the one I was given is priceless. I was able to step into the shoes of a SNCO and take charge of a team that I coordinated with assets that I built.”

As a LEAD graduate, Hughes led an exercise consisting of three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and 25 maintainers while coordinating and performing everything from mission planning to skill-level requirements for his team to support more than 5,000 joint and coalition exercise participants.

Empowering NCOs to lead large teams and make decisions at the lowest level is an important step in creating a well-rounded force that is capable of overcoming challenges in any operational environment. Embodying these mission command principles prepares Airmen to exploit rapidly developing opportunities and succeed on the battlefield.

“To ‘Win the Fight!’ with a near-peer adversary, we must be able to quickly lift-and-shift forces and operate out of multiple places simultaneously,” said Lt. Col. Megan McDonough, 317th AMXS commander. “We need to empower our NCOs, teach them how to operate off Mission Type Orders and lead small teams without constant reach back to home station. They can do it and do it well if we prepare them.”