Force development: creating future air force leaders: locked on target: the Air Force's plan to streamline its personnel development process.
Sounds like a very peasant dilemma. And, fortunately, the United States Air Force's (USAF's) Force Development initiative will enable such situations to be the norm rather than the exception.
In defining his three top priorities for today's Air Force, General T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF), included the effort to "continue to strengthen the Air Force's greatest asset--its people." General Moseley thus continues the USAF's Force Development efforts initiated in November 2002 by General John Jumper, the former CSAF.
Deliberate Strategies to Develop the Force Development Process
Force Development is defined in Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1 as "the series of experiences and challenges combined with education and training opportunities that produce Air Force leaders." Every aspect of Force Development has one common goal: to continue developing professional airmen (including officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel) who instinctively leverage their respective strengths. The intent is to develop leaders who motivate teams, mentor subordinates, and train successors. The specific goals of the Force Development initiative include the following:
* Deliberately connect all training and education opportunities to assignment experiences to build competencies that meet USAF needs across career fields
* Purposefully connect individuals' goals with USAF needs to best achieve both
* Invest the right education and training and experience in the right person at the right time
* Enhance leadership and individuals' understanding of their roles to best utilize their inputs in the development and assignment process
A Letter to Airmen, dated April 13, 2006, and written jointly by General Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, emphasized the importance of Force Development: "We are transforming our processes, streamlining our organizations, recapitalizing our systems and improving the capabilities of our people. These changes will ensure success in defending our Nation and her global interests. A key component of our evolution is the more deliberate development of our most important weapon system--our Airmen."
The mantra of Force Development, "Right Development ... Right Person ... Right Time," illustrates the deliberate nature of the developmental process. Rather than determining whom to send to a training class based on whom the office most easily can do without, Force Development will ensure that developmental opportunities are considered deliberately in order to provide the opportunity best suited to an individual's developmental needs at that time.
Force Development provides three organizational levels requiring different leadership skill set mixes:
* Tactical Level--Individuals concentrate on building proficiency in their primary duty skills.
* Operational Level--Individuals begin to gain an understanding of the broader Air Force perspective. They transition from being a specialist in their area of expertise to understanding Air Force integration.
* Strategic Level--Individuals capitalize on a vast array of occupational competencies to produce broad professional leadership. They understand how the USAF operates within the broader joint, multinational, and interagency systems.
John Park, an Air Force personnel official, stated, "The tactical level is going to be the first few years of assignment because it's going to be where the individual is serving as an expert in his career field, usually at the squadron level or below." He added, "The operational level is going to be about the [MAJCOM] level, and the strategic level is as they get into [the Air Staff] and out into the joint environment." (1)
Force Development Organization
Force Development is a USAF-wide initiative for officers, enlisted members, and civilians that spans all functional areas. The USAF is implementing this initiative in a three-phase approach. Officer Force Development is well underway; the civilian phase is in process; and the enlisted phase kicked off with an Integrated Product Team that met in February 2006. The USAF-wide effort is led by the Force Development Council (FDC). This board, chaired by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, has senior-level representatives from all USAF functional communities.
Each career field functional authority for Force Development is ultimately responsible for ensuring that it is accomplished in accordance with the CSAF's priorities. For example, Mr. John Vonglis, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management), serves as the USAF Financial Management (FM) representative to the FDC and is the Air Force FM's "functional authority." This responsibility includes building Force Development tenets into the functional area's strategic vision and goals. At the recent Air Force FM Executive Session, Mr. Vonglis reiterated his strategic vision and top priorities. Leading the list of priorities was "Our people come first! "--thus emphasizing his ongoing commitment to FM Force Development.
Each functional area has a Development Team comprising senior leaders from across the career field. The functional managers charged with the successful implementation of Force Development for the FM community are Mr. James Short (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Operations) and Major General Frank Faykes (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Budget). They co-chair FM's Development Team. The FM's team includes all major command comptrollers, representatives from the combatant commands, and general officer and Senior Executive Service representatives from the Air Staff and the Air Force Audit Agency, as shown in the sidebar on page 11. The officer, civilian, and enlisted career field managers, as well as members of the military and civilian assignments teams from the Air Force Personnel Center, advise the FM Development Team.
Each Development Team is heavily involved in assessing and evaluating people within its respective career field. The team members become familiar with the people in the occupational area. They identify the high-potential individuals and determine those individuals who need greater depth or breadth of experience before assuming more senior leadership roles. In the Air Force FM community, the old days of having a separate military board for officer issues and a policy council for civilian issues are gone. The FM Development Team currently works officer and civilian Force Development issues. Additionally, the Air Force's Force Development office is now launching the enlisted phase of Force Development as the overall concept continues to evolve.
The current roles and responsibilities of the Development Team are outlined in the following paragraphs.
Squadron Command Recommendations. FM officers who are interested in serving as FM squadron commanders complete an on-line application and obtain their senior rater's endorsement. Then, the team ranks all applicants for FM squadron commander, considering previous job assignments, levels of experience, education, and professional military education in forming its ranking. The Development Team ranking frames the list of candidates from which wing commanders choose who have current or upcoming FM squadron vacancies.
Developmental Education. The FM Development Team reviews all FM officer and civilian candidates for developmental education. The developmental education process is the mechanism used to determine in-residence attendance at both intermediate and senior developmental schools. Intermediate developmental education includes the Air Command and Staff College or its sister schools. Senior developmental education includes the Air War College or its sister schools. Developmental education also provides opportunities for military personnel to obtain advanced academic degrees at the Air Force Institute of Technology or the Naval Postgraduate School.
The civilian developmental education offerings were expanded this year to include an option for a master's degree of choice. Individuals apply for selection to pursue a master's degree in a field related to their occupational specialties at an institution of their choice (rather than only preselected locations.)
For both officers and civilians, the Development Team determines a prioritized list of candidates, which is provided to the officer and civilian Developmental Education Designation Board (a USAF-wide central selection board). The board also provides recommendations as to which school assignment offers the best development for each individual.
Vectoring. The Development Team also provides career-vectoring feedback to individuals within the career field. A career vector is an "arrow" that points the individual in the right direction and helps the person make good decisions in getting to his or her desired career goal.
Individuals being vectored in a given cycle complete an individual development plan. Officers use the Transitional Officer Development Plan, and civilians use the Transitional Civilian Development Plan. In each case, the development plan captures the individual's previous experiences, his or her goals, and projections for future assignment experiences. The Development Team reviews this information and analyzes it against the appropriate FM career field Force Development Plan.
Force Development plans exist for FM officers, civilians, and enlisted members. These plans recently were updated in light of many dynamics in the career field to include Air Force FM transformation, the National Security Personnel System, Warfighting Headquarters, the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiative, and others. To obtain more information about the latest AF FM career roadmaps, contact SAF/FM's Directorate of Workforce Management at 703-695-0550.
Once the Development Team members review each individual's record and compare it to the career Force Development Plan, the individual receives personalized feedback from the team members, including career advice in the form of both education and experience vectors. Individuals use this feedback in conjunction with supervisor and mentor discussions to determine the best "next steps" in their careers.
Other Forms of Career Feedback
Vectoring is only one form of career feedback available through the Air Force FM's Force Development implementation. Another method of obtaining valuable career feedback is through formal mentoring relationships. Mentoring is an extremely important part of career development. Individuals are encouraged to seek a mentor early in their careers. As they progress in the career field, individuals are encouraged to serve as mentors to others.
To facilitate the mentoring process, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller) (SAF/FM) has created the SAF/FM mentoring program and Web site. The intent is to provide the FM workforce with a tool to enhance development by matching a mentee with a more experienced mentor. These relationships are formed to teach, coach, counsel, sponsor, and encourage the mentee toward improved performance, greater career success, and satisfaction in the organization. Through the mentoring Web site, individuals apply to be either mentors or mentees. Prospective mentees review the biographies of available mentors and indicate several choices with whom they would be interested in forming a mentoring relationship. The program administrator then matches the mentee to a mentor, and a new mentoring relationship is born. The key of the mentoring relationship is to build rapport and frequently discuss career opportunities to encourage the mentee's professional growth. These relationships may be local or geographically separated.
Another form of Force Development in the Air Force FM community is the Virtual Leadership Dialogue (VLD). Using this automated forum, individuals may post career-field questions to one of several senior FM leaders. The VLD includes senior FM leaders from the officer, civilian, and enlisted communities who have volunteered for this mentoring opportunity. All exchanges are considered private between the individual and the senior leader. The VLD is an outstanding means whereby individuals may obtain career guidance directly from senior FM leaders.
Air Force financial managers can learn all about Force Development, the career plans, mentoring, and what they need to do to be successful through SAF/FM's newly released "Development Plan Primer for Air Force Financial Management Professionals." This document provides the foundation and the guidelines for what is expected in terms of professional development for our officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel.
A Final Thought
Force Development is transforming the way the Air Force develops its future leaders. The process ensures the right opportunity is provided for the right individual at the right time. The SAF/FM has fully embraced the Air Force's Force Development initiative.
It is now easier than ever for members of the Air Force FM community to know what is expected of them should they aspire to become senior leaders. Through career development roadmaps, the professional development primer, vectoring feedback from the FM Development Team, and interaction with senior FM leaders and mentors, members of our workforce are fully equipped to chart their path to success.
Financial Management's Development Team Membership
Mr. James Short, SAF/FMP (Co-Chair)
Major General Frank Faykes, SAF/FMB (Co-Chair)
Ms. Cathy Sparks, SAF/AG Deputy Vacant, ADAS (FMC)
Brigadier General Larry Spencer, SAF/FMBO
Ms. Marilyn Thomas/ Ms. BJ White-Olson, SAF/FMBI/M (Rotational)
Mr. James McGinley, AFMC/FM Deputy
Colonel Bill Windsor, ANG/REC (Rotational)
Ms. Heidi Grant/Brigadier General AI Flowers, UCC Pep (Rotational)
Advisory Members (Non-Voting)
Ms. Glenda Scheiner, Director, SAF/FMPW
Chief Master Sergeant Jeannie McLean, Executive for Enlisted Matters
Major Emil Gawaran/Captain Scott Thompson, AFPC/DPAS (Officer)
Ms. Denise Cavanaugh, AFPC/DPKCA (Civilian)
Glenda Scheiner, CDFM
(1) Callander, Bruce D., "Force Development Hits Its Stride," Air Force Magazine OnLine, October 2005, Vol. 88, No. 10, http://www.afa. org/magazine/Oct2005/1005forcedev.asp
Glenda Scheiner is the director of Workforce Management for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. Ms. Scheiner is a member of ASMC's Washington Chapter.
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|Title Annotation:||your financial management career|
|Publication:||Armed Forces Comptroller|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2006|
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