The Air Force is opening the eight-day Leader Development Course for Squadron Command to enlisted airmen and guardians to help develop their professional communication and interactive skills so they can effectively lead.

The course was stood up in 2018 for officers and civilians who might potentially become squadron commanders or operations directors. But in 2019, senior noncomissioned officers took part in the course as presenters to provide insight into the enlisted experience — part of a trial run for including enlisted personnel with officers and civilians in the course.

Now that the course is expanding to include senior noncomissioned officers, the program is aiming for roughly 20 to 25 percent of its graduates to come from the enlisted ranks, the Air Force said.

“The ultimate goal of LDC has always been to strengthen command teams, not just commanders,” Lt. Col. Justin Longmire, the course director, said in an Air Force news release. “It only makes sense for commanders, directors and superintendents to learn together in the academic environment before they have to tackle real-world problems together during command.”

The course is designed to provide future squadron commanders and directors with the ability to lead “effective, adaptive and lethal” squadrons, the Air Force said.

“As a senior enlisted advisor to commanders, I needed to close the gap that exists between what I think commanders need and what they say they need,” said Senior Master Sgt. Demetrius Booth, commandant of the Center for Faculty and Staff Development and Enrichment at the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education, in an Air Force news release. “And I hope (the officers and civilians) walked away with a greater understanding of what a senior NCO brings to an organization.”

Enlisted service members are nominated through their wing commanders, as tre heir officer and civilian counterparts.

Approximately 1,600 students have completed the leadership course — including 70 senior noncomissioned officers.

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