The 354th Fighter Squadron (Bulldogs) hosted the Combat Operations Leader Training course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 13-15, 2022.
This course is designed to develop company grade officers and senior non-commissioned officers from Air Combat Command’s Lead Wings into proficient Agile Combat Employment team leads.
The COLT course gives leaders insight on training and leading their multi-capable Airmen in understanding ACE, being adaptive and operating in austere and contested environments during dispersed operations.
“This course is a step towards developing CGOs and SNCOs who can execute the commander’s intent with disciplined initiative and make good decisions in ambiguous situations,” said Lt. Col. Gary Glojek, 354th Fighter Squadron commander. “That includes assessing and accepting risks.”
The ability to make timely and effective decisions with both the mission and the Airmen’s safety on the line requires insight from experienced pilots and officers who have made similar decisions in the past.
“This course started in the Bulldogs and was initially focused on training younger pilots to lead small teams closer to the director of operation or detachment commander level,” said Capt. Andrew Paterson, 354th FS A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot. “Since then, it has spread throughout the 355th Lead Wing, and on to other lead wings throughout ACC.”
The 354th FS has organized and completed several COLT courses, but this is the first time they have hosted CGOs and SNCOs from other lead wings.
“This is the first time we’ve had other Lead Wings involved with the COLT course, and it’s an awesome opportunity to learn about different mission generation force elements, which are the operations and associated maintenance that generate and execute flying operations,” said Glojek. “Our ACE teams will need to be able to accept and turn other airframes, and this is an initial step towards training our leaders to do that.”
The course instructors mentored leaders on how to adapt, overcome and make knowledgeable decisions under pressure, to include operating under mission command while disconnected from higher headquarters.
“We don’t have the only answer and we don’t have it right yet,” said Paterson. “We’ll continue to take feedback, iterate and improve the course.”
The ACC lead wings are operationally preparing for future combat scenarios and continually executing and directing future mission directives.
“The character of war is changing and we expect the future fight to be contested in every domain,” said Glojek. “In order to remain operationally unpredictable and execute distributed fighter operations, we need to train leaders capable of commanding through uncertainty.”
After completing the COLT course, leaders across ACC will be more equipped to lead the way with a solid understanding of dispersed operations, mission command and decision making. This course provides another level of readiness in implementing the Air Force mission and preparing for the high-end fight.