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42 ABW launches Operation Lethal Backbone to strengthen junior NCO leadership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lindsay Kelly
  • 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 42nd Air Base Wing has successfully completed the inaugural session of its innovative Non-Commissioned Officer course, Operation Lethal Backbone, from March 20-22. This groundbreaking program, meticulously crafted by a dedicated team of Senior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre, aims to equip newly promoted junior NCOs with the essential skills and knowledge required to navigate the demanding challenges of preparing Airmen for combat.

“I plan to apply what I've learned by leading my airmen to be great warfighters and being the best NCO I can be in my work center,” said Staff Sgt. Bianca Franco-Terriquez, 42nd ABW Logistics Readiness Squadron, who attended the first iteration of OLB. “This course has equipped me with a strong NCO networking group that has been able to help guide me and teach me valuable lessons, which are crucial for my role as an NCO. These NCOs taught me where to find answers in certain AFIs, joint publications, and so much more. It has also enhanced my ability to learn how to approach airmen with problems, how to take emotions out of counseling, utilize the Brown [The Enlisted Force Structure] and Blue book [A Profession of Arms] and work on my technical skills.”

A New Approach to Leadership Training

Operation Lethal Backbone is designed to bridge the gap between initial promotion and the practical application of leadership skills. Unlike traditional Enlisted Professional Military Education or Air Force Foundation courses, OLB focuses on providing hands-on, application-based experience. The curriculum emphasizes four critical areas: leadership under duress, energy management, emotional intelligence, and constructive leadership feedback.

Strengthening the Backbone of the Air Force

“This course aims to solidify the foundations of effective leadership in high-pressure situations, ensuring that newly inducted NCOs are well-prepared to guide and mentor their subordinates,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Evans, 42nd Security Forces Squadron. “NCOs are not only the backbone of the Air Force but also serve as mentors, coaches, and heroes to many Airmen.”

The courses emphasis on leadership feedback aims to create a culture of continuous improvement and accountability. By fostering skills in energy management and emotional intelligence, the course ensures that these leaders can maintain their composure and make sound decisions even in the most challenging environments.

Instilling Pride and Confidence

In addition to its practical objectives, Operation Lethal Backbone seeks to instill a deep sense of pride and confidence in new NCOs. As they transition into their new roles, these Airmen are inducted into the NCO Corps with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to their duties.

“[OLB] enhanced my ability to feel more confident in the way I lead and helped me realize that sometimes that style needs to be adjusted to the different Airmen that I encounter each day,” said Staff Sgt. Emily Holmes, 42nd Force Support Squadron, who also attended this first class. “This course has equipped me with a newfound network of fellow NCOs with an expansive set of skills and different views on how the Air Force works and what the different needs of the Airmen are, which are crucial for my role as an NCO.”

A Unique On-Boarding Experience

OLB is not merely another training program; it represents a critical on-boarding process for NCOs within the 42 ABW. This unique approach ensures that newly promoted leaders are not only prepared for their immediate responsibilities but are also equipped with a robust foundation for their future careers in the Air Force.

A Word from the Leadership

“The success of Operation Lethal Backbone is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our SNCO cadre,” said Evans. “This course is a vital component of our strategy to develop strong, capable leaders who can inspire and guide their teams through any challenge. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and excited for the impact these new NCOs will have on our mission.”

Looking Ahead

As the 42 ABW continues to refine and expand Operation Lethal Backbone, the base is setting a new standard for NCO preparation and induction. The initiative reflects a broader commitment to leadership development within the Air Force, ensuring that the next generation of NCOs are ready to meet the demands of an ever-evolving military landscape.