ELDP fosters experiential development
By Adam Edwards, 50th Operations Group
/ Published February 16, 2016
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- There are a lot of great professional development opportunities for civilians and I'd like to take a moment to reflect on a specific opportunity I am involved with--the Executive Leadership Development Program.
This experiential program was established in 1985 and targets GS-12s through 14s as well as active-duty O-5s. Roughly 1,000 applicants are screened and 64 are selected every year. I was thrilled and a little apprehensive when I was selected for the 2015-2016 program.
The two-pronged goal of ELDP is leadership development and Department of Defense immersion into the service components. The program fosters leadership development through practical and immersed competency development. The experiential goal of ELDP is satisfied through DOD immersion and is conducted by deployments to Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine bases as well as the National Guard Border Patrol mission in Texas. The opportunity to engage with warfighters on their turf and receive leadership lessons is a tremendous opportunity.
I first came across ELDP in the spring of 2014. I submitted a résumé, some forms and a questionnaire as part of the application package. I had completed Air Command and Staff College and was looking for the next level of professional military education. The first thing that appealed to me was the fitness requirement associated with the program. There is a recommended 2-mile run time, push-ups and sit-ups for the program.
A cohort mentor mentioned early in the program that we were underestimating the impact that the year would have on our professional and personal lives. I didn't have a clear understanding of the time commitment until half way through the year. The time away from home is roughly one week per month for the 10-month program. The application states ELDP is not for everyone. There are physical and mental stressors that help form tight bonds between cohort members.
The three-day orientation was conducted in August 2015 and allowed members to start to form as a cohort and to be introduced to the leadership competencies of the program. The cohort visited South Korea and was exposed to the mantra of "Ready to Fight Tonight." Naval and Air Force components were studied in Hawaii, and the cohort participated in a moving Pearl Harbor memorial Dec. 7. There was a shift from strategic to a tactical perspective at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. I was able to experience running around in the mud with Marines as well as use night-vision goggles during a rainy night on the installation. This experience brought home the mission of turning young men and women into Marines.
The next phase of training in March will be an Army immersion at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by an Air Force immersion in San Antonio, Texas, in April and a National Guard immersion with border patrol in May. The culminating event will be a June graduation at the Pentagon.
I have not completed the program yet, but wanted to get the word out about the program with deadlines approaching for application submission. The Civilian Development Education nomination information is projected to be released March 1, 2016. This experience so far has exceeded my expectations. I have made life-long friends and increased my professional network. The mentorship, life lessons and professional advice are all treasured and I am fortunate to be a part of this program. I hope other 50th Space Wing civilian and active-duty members can benefit from the lessons this program offers.
For more information about ELDP and developmental opportunities, go to myPers at https://mypers.af.mil.