Cadet Officer School Provides Top-Level Training for Cadet Leaders
Cadet Officer School marked its 50th year this summer, welcoming cadets from 35 wings and two overseas squadrons from Germany and Japan to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, home of Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters.
COS is a rigorous, academically challenging leadership course patterned after the U.S. Air Force Squadron Officer School. The program provides an in-depth academic and practical study of leadership and the intricacies of this evolving skill set.
The 10-day course, which ended Thursday, drew on a range of lecturers and guest speakers, including many of the same instructors and other professionals who train Air Force officers at Air University at Maxwell. The course highlights the partnership between CAP and the Air Force by using a combination of Air Force officers and CAP senior members to facilitate seminars and create a positive leadership laboratory learning experience.
“I applied to Cadet Officer School in order to learn more about becoming a better leader, so that I can become a more effective leader in my CAP career and in any position I find myself in life,” said Cadet 2nd Lt Andrew Calvin Wong of the Missouri Wing’s Lee’s Summit Composite Squadron.
The goal of COS is to contribute to cadet officers’ growth as mature leaders and responsible citizens. It’s an introduction to strategic perspectives in leadership, consistent with CAP Cadet Programs’ leadership education goals for Phase IV of the program.
Underlying this goal is the belief that leadership is a multidisciplinary subject requiring academic study and continual self‐assessment. Michelangelo’s statement, “Ancora imparo” – “I am still learning” – serves as the school motto and underlines the belief that leadership education is a lifelong process.
Most cadets arrive at COS having developed good leadership skills, with two or three years’ experience leading small teams in the tactical arena. That means they’ve been focusing on enacting plans developed by their superiors, and their chief concern has been to achieve immediate results. COS builds on that foundation, providing valuable leadership insights via lectures, reading assignments, projects and seminar discussions.
At this stage in cadet officer leadership development, COS students find themselves on the cusp of more demanding challenges, which will require a broader perspective and more sophisticated understanding of leadership. They’re often called on to contribute to the CAP mission above the squadron level.
No longer can they afford to focus on their team’s immediate needs. Rather, they must prepare themselves for indirect leadership – the process of leading other leaders. And because many are about to enter college or the military, they come to COS in search of a leadership experience that will deepen their maturity and prepare them for success in adult life.
Although confident in their abilities to motivate and coach junior cadets, COS students know they are just beginning to comprehend the art of leadership and are eager to learn more.
The rigorous selection process for COS identifies cadets who have a pattern of demonstrating the qualities of leadership CAP needs to ensure the organization’s continued success.
“Year after year Cadet Officer School graduates tell us that attending this course is a major highlight of their experience as a cadet,” said Maj Olen Freeman, the Air Force director of COS. “Our cadets go on and have incredible careers not just in the Air Force but in corporate America as well. The leadership skills our cadets are exposed to prepare them to be successful in life, period.”
COS this year featured lectures, seminar discussions and hands-on training designed to develop character and discipline, which were presented by CAP members, former graduates and the Air Force.
“My years as a CAP cadet made me a stronger person and has propelled me to 12 years of commissioned service in our U.S. Air Force. From what I've seen recently, the program is still doing incredible work,” said Maj Alexander Lamkin. “Addressing the 2018 COS students was among the most exciting and humbling experiences I've had as an officer.
“The energy of the students and staff was impressive, and I was humbled by the maturity and thoughtfulness of the cadet officers investing in the art of leadership in a manner far above their peers,” Lamkin said.
Each lecture and seminar the cadets were exposed to brings a unique perspective and background as fighter pilots, CEOs and lawyers.