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AFPC officials to offer personnel course for commanders

Randolph Air Force Base, TX -- The Air Force Personnel Center here is launching a new course designed to provide squadron commanders outside the personnel career field with the latest in Air Force military and civilian personnel programs and procedures, as well as information on the Air and Space Expeditionary Force construct.

"With the rapidly changing face of personnel support at the base level, it is more important than ever for squadron commanders to understand the Air Force's personnel processes. Our hope is that this course will give the tools squadron commanders need to better take care of their Airmen," said Lt. Col. James Costey, course administrator and chief of the Personnel Services Directorate's action group at AFPC. "These personnel programs drive promotions, pay, relocations, etc. Squadron commanders want to be well versed in the Air Force's personnel support programs and this course is designed to assist them."

In November, AFPC hosted 39 squadron commanders from five different major commands to "beta-test" the new AFPC-hosted squadron commander's course. Representatives from AFPC's directorates provided briefings and led discussions on a wide range of personnel topics that included assignments, promotions, evaluations, Air Force casualty information, the Air and Space Expeditionary Force construct, force development and a multitude of civilian programs.

AFPC officials also gave tours of the Air Force Contact Center, the Master Personnel Records Branch and other areas at the center.

"It was a very constructive few days where positive and negative feedback was welcomed and encouraged," said Maj. William Holt, commander of the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., who took part in the test course. "As a two-time sitting squadron commander, I was pleased to gain an AFPC perspective on the many personnel topics we have to deal with on a daily basis and for the opportunity to voice my concerns."

Major Holt said he especially enjoyed the class' visit to the Selection Board Secretariat where they were able to see how the Air Force promotion process, for both officer and senior enlisted members, was arranged from start to finish.

"I also came away with the need to understand the entire disability evaluation system and how important our input is to the physical evaluation board's decision-making process," Major Holt said.

Before departing AFPC, the students were given course CDs and binders to take back with them to their home unit. Early next year, officers matched to command and sitting squadron commanders will have access to the briefings and course takeaways through the Commanders Connection Web site hosted by Air University.

"While they are here for the course," said Colonel Costey, "we have more than 2,000 experts at the center who can assist the briefers if they can't answer a question. None of the students should leave here with any unanswered question."

Although most squadron commanders receive some personnel training during other leadership courses, Colonel Costey said many of these officers, for the first time in their careers, are being called on to be experts on the Air Force's personnel programs.

The findings of a recent Airmen's Time Assessment Team from Air Force headquarters, which traveled to various bases to assess Airmen workload issues, also revealed that commanders need additional training on personnel related programs and support.

"That's where this new course comes in," Colonel Costey said. "When squadron commanders become more knowledgeable about personnel programs, Airmen win. We expect this course to pay huge dividends across the Air Force."

The AFPC-hosted squadron commander's course is currently slated to be held six times a year with each course lasting four and a half days. The major commands' A1 offices will receive student quotas for the course.