By Air University Public Affairs, Air University
/ Published January 25, 2021
Senior Master Sgt. Matthew R. Mitchell, Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructor, was recently selected to attend the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) annual Senior Air Environmental Qualification (SAEQ) course.
Normally held at Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario, Canada, the Fall 2020 course was conducted virtually via the Zoom application. This prestigious course prepares chief and master warrant officers for leadership at the squadron level or higher.
Mitchell joined 50 senior noncommissioned officers for two intensive weeks studying the roles and expectations of senior enlisted leaders at the strategic level across the spectrum of operations in the Canadian Air Force.
The curriculum included topics in military law, professional conduct, assignments, succession planning, professional military education, career paths and joint and space operations. Its discussion-based format enabled students to gain both depth and breadth in these important areas of military leadership. RCAF experts were on hand to present the missions of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Air Divisions and fielded questions on current challenges, putting the issues in context.
The multifaceted experience was enriched with group projects where students spent time getting to know each other while applying their unique and diverse approaches to problem solving. Split into four syndicates, students undertook research on a specified topic, debated the contributing factors and developed a briefing on their proposed resolution. The final reports were briefed to the RCAF Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) and the 1st and 2nd Canadian Air Division CWOs.
Additionally, as part of the partnership between the SNCOA and the RCAF, Mitchell presented two lessons on self-awareness and administered the Personal Profile System and Team Dimensions Assessment.
The lessons, illuminated by data from the instruments, increased students’ awareness of their natural behavioral tendencies and preferred roles in a team setting. Feedback was extremely positive; the students appreciated the knowledge and understanding how they can apply it in their home units. The epitome of their time together came when they engaged in a conversation with the RCAF CWO and the Commander of the RCAF on issues facing SNCOs today.
While challenging to participate in a course centered on the air power culture of another nation, the interaction with Canadian SNCOs contributed valuable perspectives on how our RCAF partners operate and organize to train and equip their forces to execute their mission.
Reflecting on his experience, Mitchell stated, “It was helpful because it enabled me to learn about their specific personnel programs and see some of the similarities and how they approach problems or find solutions. It has certainly helped prepare me as I get ready to transition out of the SNCOA and into a Squadron Superintendent position.”