ALPENA, Mich. –
In an effort to develop leaders of the future, the Michigan National Guard (MING) recently hosted a joint enlisted and company grade officer professional development training April 23-25 at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Fostering leadership within this next generation of MING members is critical to the future success of the organization and the state as a whole.
The attendees discussed a variety of topics and interacted with numerous senior leaders from across the state. Some of the topics included innovative leadership, Michigan’s All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC), future missions, and support programs available to Soldiers and Airmen.
“By investing in our Airmen and Soldiers in the junior ranks, we will make sure they are ready to step into their next level of leadership,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lyle Black, Joint Force Headquarters, Air National Guard professional development advisor. “We want to provide them with this sort of education now and work to retain them because they are our leaders of tomorrow.”
The keynote speaker for the training event was Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief, National Guard Bureau Tony Whitehead.
“A lot of innovation is happening in the great state of Michigan,” said Whitehead, “I want to thank you all for stepping up and making the decision to be here at this training session to prepare for your future as National Guard leaders.”
The participants were briefed on the NADWC which encompasses the collection of the state’s unique environments, premier Air and Army training venues, and provides the operational and developmental framework required to fully integrate joint all domain training. MING leadership discussed how that fits with the Kelly Johnson Joint All-Domain Innovation Center, which leverages opportunities with industry and academia to provide the NADWC with capabilities for current and future operating missions.
“With events like this, we are trying to educate our lower enlisted Guard members on the bigger picture and priorities of the state,” said Black. “We are trying to help them build relationships, to work in a joint environment and to understand how they fit in with the National Defense Strategy right here in Michigan.”
A majority of the briefings had both officers and enlisted members engaged and breakout sessions allowed for more direct conversations. The officers who participated were able to meet with various group and squadron commanders from across the state.
“In addition to networking and gaining understanding of the bigger picture, this training allows officers to talk to commanders,” said Air Force Maj. Stephen Klenke, 127th Civil Engineer Squadron, deputy base civil engineer, Selfridge Air National Guard Base. “The next step for many of these officers is a command position and we want them to learn from today’s leaders to understand the skills necessary to be successful in those roles.”
This was the second time this training included enlisted members and company grade officers together. Both Klenke and Black see joint trainings as key to the future success of MING.
“We operate and fight in a joint environment, we should also come together as MING members to learn about leadership and state priorities in a joint manner,” said Klenke.
Michigan Army and Air National Guard members also agreed about the benefits of the training being joint in nature.
“This event affords us the opportunity to come together and learn from one another,” said Army Staff Sgt. Deandre Fortenberry, Joint Forces Headquarters, 631st Troop Command supply noncommissioned officer. “A lot of what we are being exposed to here is how the new military is going to look, and we can see from our leadership that Michigan is already training in multi- domain environments.”
“This is a high-level event where we are exposed to training and insights that will help us meet our goals moving forward,” said Fortenberry. “The more we can learn about our organization’s priorities in the earlier part of our careers, the more valuable we will be as we continue to serve and take on new responsibilities.”