From the Top: Developing people for a strong team

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson assumed command of AFRC July 30, replacing Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., who has served as commander since June 2008. Stenner retired from the Air Force with 39 years of military service.

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Citizen Airman/Apr. 2014 -- At the heart of every great team are great people. One way to develop great Airmen is through force development, which is why one of the Air Force Reserve guiding principles is ensuring we are a "professional, sustainable military force." The more our people are challenged through the right opportunities, the more they grow and become stronger-performing members of the team.

Jack Welch, former chief executive officer of General Electric, understood this idea clearly. "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself," he said. "When you become a leader, success is all about growing others."

My intent for force development is to ensure our Citizen Airmen get the same experiences, education and broadening opportunities as the active duty, while maintaining our "Reserve" culture. To better understand our current efforts, please read the force development article that begins on Page 18 and take a look at the accompanying "four pillar" diagram.

Many of you have seen the four pillars of force development. One question that may not be readily apparent is: "Why do we need these particular pillars?" The answer has to do with "breadth and depth." Depth is mainly achieved early in a career, when the Air Force asks you to focus on your primary job. ... and to be the best at it. As you develop expertise, and gain rank and experience, the focus changes to breadth. The four pillars -- Command/Special Duties, Joint, Above Wing/MAJCOM and National Capital Region -- are intended to produce the most well-rounded senior leaders.

The first pillar is Command/Special Duties. Leadership is fundamental to everything we do. Serving as a commander is important to gaining "hands-on" leadership, especially at the squadron level, which is the building block of the Air Force. Chief Kirksey addresses Special Duties in his commentary as it relates to enlisted force development. Another pillar is Joint. Senior leaders should know how the sister services contribute to the joint fight. The third pillar is Above Wing/MAJCOM. Our senior leaders need to understand how staffs support Airmen and operations in the field. Lastly, the fourth pillar is National Capital Region. Effective leaders understand the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and life "inside the beltway."

In my opinion, this is why I disagree with the recommendation from the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force report to "disestablish Air Force Reserve Command" and "inactivate the Reserve numbered air forces, wings and squadrons." If enacted, the recommendation would eliminate leadership pathways to develop our Citizen Airmen, especially for our air reserve technicians and traditional Reservists.

Whether officer or enlisted, there are tangible paths you can start on now that lead toward becoming a senior leader. Complete your development plan annually, get feedback from your supervisor, and consider when some of these options may be the right fit for you and your family.

Like Jack Welch, Chief Kirksey and I are focused on growing our team. We are passionate about the future of the Air Force Reserve. You are that future. Your continued participation and commitment helps make the Air Force Reserve such a great team.

Thanks for all you do!