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Generals share leadership messages at AFROTC Commander's Conference

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., spoke to more than 140 Air Force ROTC detachment commanders at the 2009 AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Oct. 22. General Deptula is an AFROTC graduate and stressed the importance of instilling an air-mindedness mind-set in the future leaders of the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., spoke to more than 140 Air Force ROTC detachment commanders at the 2009 AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Oct. 22. General Deptula is an AFROTC graduate and stressed the importance of instilling an air-mindedness mind-set in the future leaders of the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

More than 140 Air Force ROTC detachment commanders attended the 2009 AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Oct. 22. The commanders are responsible for mentoring and influencing more than 15,000 future leaders enrolled in the program across the world. More than 1,800 cadets are scheduled to receive their Air Force commission this year alone. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

More than 140 Air Force ROTC detachment commanders attended the 2009 AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Oct. 22. The commanders are responsible for mentoring and influencing more than 15,000 future leaders enrolled in the program across the world. More than 1,800 cadets are scheduled to receive their Air Force commission this year alone. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- As the Air Force's largest commissioning source, Headquarters Air Force ROTC at Maxwell hosted the 2009 AFROTC Commander's Conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery this year and more than 140 detachment commanders from around the world were in attendance.

The annual conference provides the detachment commanders opportunities for training with regional breakout sessions, updates on program changes, to recognize accomplishments, fellowshipping opportunities and to share best practices employed by other detachments.

With 2009 proving to be an accomplished year, the Holm Center executed Field Training for more than 2,000 cadets, reimplemented the Gold Bar recruiting program, and integrated the Academy of Military Science and Civil Air Patrol-USAF under the Holm Center. In addition, AFROTC was awarded a best practice award by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force for revamping Field Training.

The capstone dinner featured a distinguished AFROTC graduate, Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

"I truly believe that what you are doing is one of the most important jobs in the Air Force - shaping, training and molding our future leadership," General Deptula told the commanders.

He also emphasized the need for the commanders to "develop Air power leaders of tomorrow by implicating them with a strong foundation of 'airmindedness,'" the general said. "That's a term that we don't hear a lot about these days."

"Instilling airmindedness in our future officer corps is a fundamental task," General Deptula said. "It's vital to contributing to a true joint approach to meeting the challenges that we face today, as well as how we're going to succeed in the conflicts in the future."

"We mustn't lose our air-mindedness in the Air Force," the general stated.

General Deptula stressed the key factor to instilling this mind-set is "to empower people to make decisions." He cited a specific example where Airmen were told what to do, but not how to do it. As one of the leaders of this group of Airmen, he noticed the end result was air-mindedness not only on the minds of his Airmen, but in their actions.

"Where we need to redouble our efforts is in teaching our future leaders the importance of empowering others to make decisions," General Deptula concluded.

In addition to the dinner, the annual conference provides AFROTC leadership the opportunity to honor cadets, cadre and detachments for their achievements throughout the year.

This year's award luncheon and ceremony featured a previous Air Command and Staff College commandant who is now the director of the Office of the Assistance Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition's Global Power Programs in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. Jay H. Lindell shared his appreciation for the detachment commanders as a former Professional Military Education instructor himself.

"Let me just say how important and critical a job it is to inspire, motivate and teach the future leaders of our Air Force," General Lindell said. "Congratulations on what you do. It's a tougher job than most people realize. Thank you for all you do."

During his speech, the general explained his tidbits of advice for the commanders who influence the more than 15,000 Air Force ROTC cadets enrolled across the globe.

"It's all about the team - it's teamwork," General Lindell shared. "In my 31 years in this greatest Air Force in the world, the reason I'm still in today is because of the people I work with, the people that I serve, the great leaders I've had the opportunity to serve with, and it's all about the teamwork."

He also expounded on important characteristics leaders should possess.

"When it really comes down to it, what I have seen from my personal perspective is it's about a leader who knows their place in a team, they know where their talents add value to the team ... and they know when it's their time to follow."

The general left the commanders with his six key phrases of leaders, each descending from a six-word phrase to a one-word phrase.

When a mistake occurs, leaders who can admit it was "my fault, I made a mistake," the general shared, helps reduce tensions, allow synergy to develop and pave the way for teams to determine a solution to correct the mistake.

"That's one of the fundamental lessons of being a leader," General Lindell said. "When you can say that, you will gain so much more credibility and respect from your subordinates.

"When somebody tells me, 'you did a good job,' it is exciting, it is exhilarating," he continued.

Asking members of your team or cadets 'what do you think?' provides everyone an opportunity to feel a part of the team and project, the general explained. Asking for input allows everyone to have a piece of the success or failure.

'Would you please?' goes a long way, General Lindell said. "Three simple words - 'would you please,' makes a big difference on somebody's motivation to do what you want them to do."

Sometimes we get too involved, or busy going in multiple different directions and we forget to say, 'thank you,' he shared. "The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated. We all want to be appreciated. It's a deep craving all of us have."

Lastly, 'us,' reinforces the teamwork concept vital to the success of any organization, family unit or detachment, the general emphasized.

With the 144 commanders armed with knowledge to impart to their cadets and cadre, the Air Force ROTC program is postured to continue to be the highest commissioning source for the Air Force with 1,800 cadets slated to receive their Air Force commission this year.

For more information on the Air Force ROTC program, visit www.afrotc.com/.