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Misawa Hosts Inaugural Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course

A military member in a jumpsuit talks to a class of military members.

U.S. Air Force Col. Jesse Friedel, 35th Fighter Wing commander, gives opening remarks to participants during the start of the Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 18, 2021. Friedel congratulated the inaugurated class stating the importance of their leadership skills, teamwork and critical thinking to empower their Airmen and accomplish the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa)

A military member on the right side of the picture looks at a class of military members.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joey Meininger, 35th Fighter Wing command chief, conducts a class on leading senior non-commissioned officers during a Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 19, 2021. The class was split in half to allow Meininger an opportunity to give anecdotes, advice and answer any questions the officers had about leading their flight chiefs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa)

A panel of representatives of the resources on base talk to a class of military members.

A panel of helping agencies is held during a Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 19, 2021. The panel consisted of representatives from sexual assault prevention and response, mental health, judge advocate, the chapel, office of special investigation, equal opportunity and the inspector general, highlighting the resources for any issue that they or their Airmen may come across. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa)

Four military members sit as a panel in front of other military members.

A panel of squadron chief enlisted managers is held during a Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 21, 2021. The class was split in half in order for the chief master sergeants in the panel to talk directly and give feedback to the enlisted members who were participating in the course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa)

Misawa Air Base, Japan --

The first combined Flight Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Course at Misawa Air Base, Japan, was held at the Community Commons which kicked off on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

Flight commanders, usually company grade officers, and flight chiefs, usually a master or senior master sergeant, work under the squadron commander together, or are solely, authorized between 20 to 100 personnel.

Misawa ran the week-long 40-hour course designed to provide upcoming or current flight commanders and flight chiefs with critical skills and vital knowledge to better direct, lead and organize their flights.

“The participants took courses focused on leadership, diversity, inclusion and writing as a whole,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. John Diaz, 35th Fighter Wing director of staff and co-course developer. “Having both the flight commanders and senior enlisted leaders work together to problem solve and operate, not only in austere environments but diverse environments as well, readies them to be the best leaders who empower their Airmen to be the best version of themselves.”

The participants honed these leadership skills through networking and educational material taught by experienced instructors brought in from different career fields. The skills directly contribute to their ability to complete their job and mission at Misawa as well as their future commands.

The previous year, Team Misawa held a virtual flight commanders course and later asked the participants for any feedback. The overwhelming response indicated a need for a similar course for their flight chiefs.

“Senior enlisted leaders are encouraged to attend with their flight commanders wherever possible because that's how the team is typically constructed in most squadrons or flights,” Diaz said. “We had various panels present scenarios to problem solve; it’s important for them to understand what their lines of authority are, how to apply progressive discipline and what they’re able to legally do as a team.”

A total of 23 officers and enlisted personnel from the 35th Medical Group, 35th Maintenance Group, 35th Operations Group and 35th Mission Support Group were accepted and participated in the course to better their leadership skills for their squadron and Airmen.

The plan for the course is to be held twice a year, stated Diaz. Previously, COVID-19 was a limiting factor but Team Misawa managed to complete a virtual course following COVID-19 regulations and guidelines.


“The course has given me a lot of tools, even by just sitting in on the squadron commanders panel,” said Capt. Noah Coil, 35th Maintenance Squadron maintenance flight officer in charge. “Having others talk about the things they've gone through, giving advice on how they handled it and by soliciting feedback allows us to avoid making the same mistakes, and taking those lessons to improve the Air Force.”