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Scott AFB hosts JROTC Cadet Advanced Leadership Course

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Solomon Cook
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Leadership is something that can be taught at a young age, and for a group of local JROTC students, their foundational leadership skills were built during the JROTC Cadet Advanced Leadership Course, CALC, at Scott in a weeklong visit June 5-9, 2023.

During the visit, cadets from six schools throughout Missouri and Illinois went through daily classroom instruction, open ranks with uniform inspections, and concluded with a graduation and certificate presentation.

The cadets, primarily rising juniors and seniors, were handpicked by their school’s cadre for their observed leadership ability. CALC is intended to focus foster and grow those leadership skills for years to come.

“Cadets were selected because they have been identified as future leaders in the corps for next year,” explained retired Lt. Col. Jeff Ditlevson, Gateway STEM Senior Aerospace Science Instructor. “The course is designed to help identify possible weak spots where they might need some improvement, but also build those areas where they already might be strong. Additionally, it gives them some overall awareness of the mission of Scott.”

To ensure the cadets had an opportunity to lead and have confidence instilled in them, various leadership roles rotated daily throughout the course of the week.

“We have a commander and a first sergeant who are identified at the beginning of every day who assume those leadership roles among their peers,” Ditlevson said. “They help lead the course. Even though [the cadre] are busy and behind the scenes making things happen, we try to have as little involvement in the running of the course as we can. Ideally, this is designed to let the cadets manage themselves as much as they can.”

In addition to the cadets’ classroom curriculum, they also had the chance to interact with operational servicemembers where they learned about different career fields.

“We've been to the kennel and saw the K-9s. I barely could watch because my allergies, but I saw Col. D get bit by a dog [in a bite suit], it was kind of funny,” a University City High School AFJROTC cadet said while laughing. “We also went to [375th Civil Engineer emergency management]. We saw what they have to wear, they showed us that is slows them down and a little bit being in the suits.”

The upcoming high school senior explained that for her, interacting with the cadets from other schools was a highlight for her that helped to put individuals’ differences in perspective.

“We experienced teamwork activities,” she said. “My unit, we’re kind of a small unit. We've all known each other for a minute. Being in this environment, it helped me understand other people's emotions and how to deal with people with different personalities. We all come from different places. We all have learned different things. Coming together and putting our different experiences in one place really has been a great opportunity for me.”

She further explained that when she was commander for the day, she came across a few groups that were not meshing as well as they should. In her leadership role, she had the opportunity to help other cadets through conflict resolution and interpersonal issues.

“When I was commander, I had to make sure everyone felt like they belonged with their wingman, and I came across a couple groups that did not feel connected, she recounted. “I feel like being a leader, I had to do more. I spoke with both of them together, not just one person alone, because it's to takes two people.”

Ditlevson, who served in the Air Force for 21 years, says that anecdotes like these are what motivates him to keep serving in his current role.

“We get the opportunity to reach out to the cadets,” he said. “We are making an impact with a totally different audience. I’ve got kids who come back after having graduated years ago. They'll come back to the school and say, ‘Col. D, I still look back at joining JROTC, and it's the best decision I ever made. The things you taught me in JROTC I still apply those things in my life.’ That's the feedback that makes me want to keep doing it.”

The weeklong event concluded June 9 at the 435th Training Squadron certificates of completion were presented. Additionally, those identified as exemplars were given additional awards and praise. As the cadets made their way into summer break, many said they would take the lessons learned while at Scott and implement them next year and years to come.