Leadership at USAFA BCT

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by scoutpilot, Jul 27, 2014.

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  1. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    A good friend of mine just started his tour as an (AOC) at USAFA. He wrote us an interesting message yesterday, in which he mentioned that he was appalled at the lack of basic leadership principles. For example, when the new cadets (Basics, I guess they're known in USAFA parlance?) sleep in the field, the cadet cadre is bussed back to the dorms to sleep in their rooms.

    Is this a longstanding way of doing business for USAFA?
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    When I was a member of the BCT cadre in Jack's Valley...it was "normal" for a percentage of the cadre to not have night watch/bed-check duty and they were free to go back to their rooms at the main campus. They weren't bused; they had to drive their own vehicles. And they had to be back in Jack's prior to reveille.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Just from talking to 2nd BCT cadre, I think there is a bus that goes down a couple times a day now...a good chunk still drive down themselves though.
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Does no one see an issue with this?
     
  5. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    I see a HUGE issue with this.....

    Why the heck do we have to teach folks entering the Air Force how to camp in the woods? Except for a very small minority of us, the VAST majority will go to war operating from an air base, and the last I thought, they aren't located in a forest....

    Besides that, what is your point. That shared misery for made up combat situations that most will never see makes better leaders? Hog wash. Leading in the situations that we will ask them to lead once they are active duty makes leaders, and we ain't about to make a portion of BCT the equivalent of Red Flag.
     
  6. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    X2 :thumb:
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    That's a pretty piss-poor attempt to run away from the obvious, and I think you know it. Hogwash is the idea that it's okay to expect something of your troops you aren't willing to endure yourself. "You sleep out here in the heat and dirt. I'll be in the AC." I highly, highly doubt that would pass the sniff test of good leadership in the active duty USAF.

    If you honestly believe that effective leadership for these cadets is only learned and taught in situ, then you're pretty much opposed to the entire makeup of BCT and USAFA. Why have cadets play sports? They're not going to be fighting wars on the Rugby field, after all. Why have them be plebes/dooleys/whatever at all? They'll never be made to run around the t-zo as officers.

    Could you agree that there are important lessons in those hardships that can be carried to the cockpit?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  8. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Leading by example is a thing that exists...
    If I'd been sleeping outside and eating MREs, I'd find it damn hard to respect some dick yelling at me who spent the previous night in a real bed eating real food.
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    This. :thumb:
     
  10. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    If not at USAFA BCT, when and where?

    I don't think most people's behavior suddenly changes when thye become an officer. Whatever good or bad lessons they learned will carry over when they enter the active duty.

    In my opinion, the summer training at SAs are also training for upperc class cadre as much as it is training for underclassmen. What makes a SA different from other colleges are four years of leadership training, not just wearing uniform or getting a degree.
     
  11. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    High, I forgot what the grund-pounder culture was like, treating every problem like a nail because the only tool they are comfortable with is a hammer, and woah onto any who even think about using another (and in most case, more appropriate) tool.

    You all seem to place a LOT of leadership on credibility with the troops. Specifically, credibility gained because your willing to do what your troops are doing -- if they have to do it, I should do it too. And that's fine, even respectable. I instead place on much higher emphasis on gaining credibility from my troops in HOW WELL I LEAD MY TEAM TOWARDS MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT. I want my team to know that I will make sure they can get the mission done through my efforts, either by passing my knowledge and experience, or by jumping in with them and turning the damn wrench myself if they need the extra hands.

    So yes, playing a team sport IS important, learning through experience to overcome obstacles IS important. Leading by example IS important. Emphasizing being tough over being smart? Not so much.

    Why has the AF decided that a large portion of our basic training should include "camping" and "playing Army"? Because that has been the current conflict, and we want to be seen "playing our part" because the average citizen, to include those who decide where the money goes, haven't a clue on how airpower contributes to the COIN fight. This is unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as what that AF leadership has done in response: try to "play Army"

    You want to have a training experience where those being trained are challenged while the cadre is learning to lead? Well, I do as well. Give the cadets challenges that are MISSION FOCUSED, but have the cadre LEAD the team vice just yelling at them to do the job. I could give dozens of examples, but instead we have our cadre yelling at our cadets because the area around their tent isn't secure, or their butts are sticking too high up during a low crawl.

    And as to "how can a troop respect me if I'm not willing to also sleep in the field?". Well, simple answer: I DID that already. Doing it once proved I was tough. Doing it mulple times for no reason with no impact towards mission accomplishment? That just proves I'm either masochistic or stupid. Or worse, both.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I think Air Force "plays army" because it's insecure enough to admit it typically doesn't (a generalization, I admit, but one I make from a very interesting experience with an AF public relations program I witnessed).

    When I was a swab, I wouldn't consider our sleeping in the field as "playing army". We weren't under the impression that it in anyway was indicative of a future Coast Guard careers. It was an experience in disorientation and team building, and that final crucible was "interesting" to say the least. Nothing like sleeping on goose $hit hoping you don't roll face first into it. I don't know if our cadre returned to the barracks. I know many didn't. Many were waiting right with us to immediately scare us after firing a cannon. And I know many other cadre were up all night to scare away the racoons.

    Yes there is an element of "I've already done this.... earned my stripes." But I tend to think of that in terms of what they're still learning. As a cadre I didn't run around, squaring corners and calling the swabs sir or ma'am because I had not only done that, but had to teach them. We would run with them and do what they had to do unless, 1. we had to prepare for something else while other cadre worked with them or, 2. safety (if I was up all night on "suicide watch" I slepted in while other cadre took over for the morning). But that said, because I had "been there done that" didn't mean I took the easy path when it was sweaty or hard. Yes, I had "been there done that" but I was a cadet. There were many others who had "been there and done more" before me. I hadn't earned anything except the responsibility to train the newest swabs. Was I tough enough? Not sure. I battled with that question throughout my time at CGA. But I wasn't an officer, I had not achieved the mission of the United States Coast Guard Academy.... until I walked across the stage May 17, 2006, and became a commissioned officer. Before that moment, I was no more deserving than the most junior swab or most senior 1/c cadet.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    This speaks volumes about generally poor leadership skills. I'm almost convinced you're being contrary for the sake of it.

    I find it hard to believe that you would honestly buy into the idea that leading by example is a farce and that credibility with those you will order into harm's way doesn't matter.

    "Of course he'd tell me to fly into the SAM threat but stay in the rear himself."
     
  14. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I don't mean that every leader has to prove or endure same hardship as their troops. Leaders with direct responsbilities/supervision relationship should share more time with troops than a leader sevearl levels up. Also I think the question is more than just sleeping in the field, but rather what's being instructed as basic leadership skills/trait at USAFA BCT.

    So using the USAFA BCT example, I don't expect the Supe to sleep out in the field with the new cadets, but I do expect cadet cadre to spend as much time as possible with the new cadets.
     
  15. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    This...The "But I've already done this" leads down a slippery slope of tying leadership to privilege rather than responsibility.

    For what it's worth, being "in the field" is a relatively remote experience across the services. To be frank, most Marine Officers won't go to the field the same way after TBS (combat arms MOSs excepted), but we go during TBS anyway. What's the likelihood of me ever having to again lead a platoon movement to contact? When am I going to dig a fighting hole again? Hopefully never, because if I'm ever doing either of these things something's gone wrong.
    But we still go in training because it's a great vehicle for teaching leadership. When you're sleep deprived, hungry, and cold (or hot) all the time it becomes much harder to do what seems obvious in a classroom.
    I wish we took Plebes to the field during Plebe Summer, though logistically I know it's not really feasible.

    What would "mission focused" training for USAFA cadets be? If you're basing success for the cadre on how well they lead their team towards "mission accomplishment," then what is that mission? Presumably, it's creating functioning members of the Cadet Wing who can uphold USAFA's standards and are on their way to becoming leaders themselves. It shouldn't be a surprise that the Basics are always watching their Cadre, because that's their only introduction so far as to what acceptable Cadet behavior is.
    If the Cadre sets a tone of "Whatever, I've already done this crap" or takes advantage of their position, that's a great way to create cynical Cadets right off the bat.
     
  16. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    I went through Army boot camp in the Mid 80's as an enlisted. When we went to Bivouac(spelling?) our drill sergeants did not all stay overnight in the field with us. Some stayed and some drove home. In fact every night we were in basic training there were just a couple who worked overnight shifts while the rest drove home to sleep. It also was obvious to us that they rotated days and took days off throughout boot camp. We didn't get any days off!

    Did this make them bad leaders? I don't think so. We respected them to the nth degree. We did NOT expect them to do everything we did. Never saw that as their job and it was not required for me to respect them.

    Seems to me the Air Force Academy (Along with ROTC, OCS etc.) must be doing something right as they have done a fantastic job of producing effective leaders and are accomplishing their mission. Are there ever issues? Of course but that also can be said for any branch of service and Service Academy.

    I'm just not sure why the need to bash what the USAFA does at their BCT when the end results seem to be just fine. If it was broken then I'd say we need to identify what is broken and fix it. But if it ain't broke........
     
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The major difference in that situation is that Drill Sergeants are trainers. Cadre are both trainers AND trainees.

    Years ago at Airborne school, I recall how some of the Sergeant Airborne instructors would rotate in and out on the laps of the 4-nile runs, but would scream at us for not calling cadence loudly enough. Even the PV2s and PFCs in my stick would say "that's some bull****."

    I don't doubt that USAFA doesn't mind that their first-line leaders don't lead from the front. But they should. And it explains a lot. I have to wonder if maybe AFROTC field training doesn't do it a little better.

    It's kind of a fascinating concept. I would challenge anyone who's around a military post to posit this scenario to an NCO or junior officer:

    You are a squad leader and your squad is in the field for the night. As their leader, you should:

    A. Be in the field with them.
    B. Ask a fellow squad leader to look after your squad and go home for the night.
    C. Go home for the night.


    You're going to get an overwhelming amount of "A" as the only correct answer.

    To Bullet's original point: maybe field training isn't something the Air Force Academy really needs to do. But they do it, and to use the apparent "meaninglessness" of the training as a reason not to lead from the front is another way of saying "I'll give this training and my troops my best effort...unless I don't really like it."
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  18. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    Scout,

    I am unsure what you mean by this point. Is there an issue you see with Air Force Cadets coming from the Academy? I'm certainly far from educated on the matter but I was unaware of any more/less issues from cadets trained at the Air Force Academy than those commissioning through ROTC or Cadets from any other Service Academy for that matter.
     
  19. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Rocko.....JMPO but I think you're witnessing some ground pounders attitudes that working smarter instead of harder is less desirable because "it's not the way we've been doing it for the last 100 years". They attempt to cloak this attitude with statements about troops not respecting their leaders if they aren't sleeping in tents besides them.....regardless of whether these AF personnel will ever sleep in tents again. Add in a little resentment of the AF lifestyle and you'll see the end results in some of the posts on this thread.

    BTW - specifically concerning USAFA - the training cadre get less sleep than the Basics. They wake up before them and often go to sleep hours after the basics. The basics know this. I'm fairly certain they could care less about how many of their cadre sleep on the ground AGAIN but instead are busy congratulating themselves on their wise decisions to choose the AF over the Army or Marines.
     
  20. billyb

    billyb Member

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    This conversation is starting to get a little out-of-hand. All services are different. I am a USMA type, but I have experienced a very little bit of AF culture as a family member is in the AF.

    Ex: I visited my family member (who was an E4 at the time) while I was a cadet and he took me to his work where the O6 called him by his first name and I about fell on the floor. We also saw some Army guys doing field work at night and my E4 family member wondered who in the world was out after dark; I told him that was the army air defense guys. He couldn't believe that one.:biggrin:

    I don't think either is better or worse; just different.

    I am no longer in the army, but to this day I still don't ask anyone to do anything that I won't do, I always eat last at the company outings, etc...

    Some things just stick with you.

    This one is probably better to agree to disagree.
     
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