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Doing More With More: 97 AMW Squadron Superintendents Course

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Pohnert, 97th Mission Support Group superintendent, talks about his experience of being a superintendent, during the Squadron Superintendents Course.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Pohnert, 97th Mission Support Group superintendent, talks about his experience of being a superintendent, during the Squadron Superintendents Course, Oct. 3, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. This course is about building positive leadership traits and habits for superintendents in order to accomplish the commander’s intent.

At the head of every unit, there is a triad of leadership: it is the commander, first sergeant and superintendent who are charged with leading, training and disciplining their Airmen who complete the mission. Commanders and first sergeants undergo formal training on handling their units, but superintendents never went through any formal training…until now.

For three days, approximately 25 new, soon-to-be and stand-in superintendents are receiving formal training from subject matter experts, commanders and current superintendents, Oct. 3 through Oct. 5, 2018 at Altus AFB.

“I wish that this course existed when I was becoming a superintendent,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Pohnert, 97th Mission Support Group superintendent. “Having this information available is invaluable for our upcoming superintendents. I believe that we will have a more prepared force with the outcome of this course.”

This course was created by Air Education and Training Command and taught to base representatives from around the Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. In addition to superintendent responsibilities, this three-day course also instructs the representatives on furthering the continuum of learning.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jennifer Martin, 97th Wing Staff Agency superintendent, and Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Wilson, 97th Training Squadron superintendent, represented the Mighty 97th. They traveled to Maxwell AFB to learn the criteria of the course, build a course for Altus AFB and train local leadership to instruct these new leaders on how to lead their units.

“This course is about building positive leadership traits and habits,” said Wilson. “Before this, there was no training for superintendents. The superintendent’s job is to help translate the commander’s mission to the enlisted so they can accomplish it with their best ability. If a superintendent doesn’t quite know how to do that it can lead to mission discrepancies.”

Wilson and Martin have localized this course even further by partnering with a local cotton processing plant to see their leadership practices and processes.

“We contacted one of the local plants because we thought it would be another great example of leadership practices even without military involved,” said Wilson. “Everywhere someone goes there are always going to be leaders making sure goals get accomplished and talking with the locals is another great benefit of Altus’ community relationship.”

When a superintendent can properly provide the leadership skills to guide Airmen, any mission can be effectively accomplished.

“We are not doing more with less,” said Wilson. “This course will let us do more with more and in the end we can effectively get the mission accomplished.”