HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- As Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) routinely integrates joint force air, space and cyberspace capabilities to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific, the command also equips command leaders at all echelons to make timely decisions at the speed of relevance through the Squadron Commanders’ Course and Spouse Orientation.
PACAF hosted the most recent iteration of their Squadron Commanders’ Course and Spouse Orientation here, June 21 to 23.
From the standpoint of being innovative, ready and lethal, the PACAF Squadron Commanders’ Course and Spouse Orientation enables command teams to discuss operational plans, agile combat employment concepts, and how they measure readiness.
“The [squadron commanders] understand what the operational plan expects out of them, and therefore have an understanding of where they can step in to see what their part of that plan is,” said Maj. Gen. David Iverson, Director of PACAF A3/6, Air and Cyberspace Operations. “And then as we look at near peer competition and conflict, our ability as we transform and implement agile combat employment is no longer a concept, right? It's reality. We're doing it in the field, and we use that during a fight, if you will.”
Iverson served as the senior leader mentor during the PACAF Squadron Commanders and Spouses Course. Iverson explained to commanders that it is critical for leaders to be able to balance the need to accomplish the mission while simultaneously supporting their people.
“There's not one that's more important than the other, they're completely intertwined with each other,” Iverson said. “Being able to see the different perspectives and perceptions that commanders from different locations have enables them to see the Indo-Pacific theater from a different lens as they make decisions that impact the Airmen and families they serve. I think that's the biggest part of this course - for them to come in and understand what is out there, what resources they have and what is expected out of them to accomplish those two things.”
One new squadron commander at Hickam shared his personal perspective of how he can harness the tools gained from the course to support his Airmen.
“I always say command is a team sport, and that goes from the family at the home front to your fellow commanders across the theater,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Polston, 647th Civil Engineer Squadron Commander. “So, you’ll always be able to reach out to them, and kind of get bites from them on what they're doing well, what's not working, what is working, and what things they're seeing on their front. What's happening here at Hickam may not be exactly what's being seen in Guam, Korea, Japan or Alaska. Bringing everyone together in this type of environment allows us to network, and that's priceless.”
When commanders support each other by sharing experiences, they embody the Air Force-level priority to empower leaders as they develop a culture of confidence to make decisions in dynamic situations.
“Every single squadron in the Pacific, whether it's an operational squadron or support squadron, their mission is to deter our adversaries, and then to be ready to fight if and when deterrence fails,” Iverson said. “And the deterrence part of this is that the missions they go out and accomplish maintain the status quo as it is today. It maintains that rules-based international order, which is a free and open Indo Pacific.”
Iverson also explained that the delegation of decisions and authority to the lowest levels of the fight during day-to-day operations can be considered one of the key strengths of the U.S. Department of Defense.
“Pushing that decision making down to the lowest level educates and trains our entire force to then be ready to make those decisions if we transition to combat operations,” Iverson said. “Somebody at the very front of the conflict is going to understand what they need in order to fight much better than someone that is 2, 3, or 4000 miles away. Once you give them guidance and commander's intent, you want to push the decision making for the actual execution to the lowest level possible.”
On the military spouse front, Jenny Iverson, PACAF Senior Spouse Mentor and wife of Maj. Gen. David Iverson, provided mentorship and words of encouragement to the new squadron command spouses in the course.
Mrs. Iverson explained that the military spouse network exists so spouses can lean on each other during times of need to gain information in a variety of areas from understanding commander’s priorities to family readiness, child care assistance, job opportunities and resiliency programs.
“Whether it's on the officer side or the enlisted side, spouses are here helping support their active duty member to get the mission done,” Mrs. Iverson said. “I think having a course like this, and empowering and recognizing the role that spouses can play is really valuable and sets command teams up for greater success, and therefore, better mission success for the Air Force.”