Phoenix Horizon board helps develop future mobility leaders

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Putting the right people in the right places at the right time.

In following this strategy set forward in the Air Force chief of staff's new force development plan, Air Mobility Command officials are changing the way they select participants to attend their Phoenix Horizon professional development programs.

One change is the creation of a consolidated Phoenix Horizon board, which will meet Jan. 20 in San Antonio. This board allows senior mobility leaders to provide direct career direction to their top junior officers by appointing them to the Phoenix Hawk or Phoenix Reach development programs, said Lt. Col. Tamra Rank, deputy chief of assignments at AMC.

In past years, commanders nominated a limited number of applicants for each specific program and two boards were used to select participants. With the new program, commanders can nominate as many eligible applicants as they want. The consolidated board will review and assign participants to either the Hawk or Reach program based on each applicant's qualifications.

"These programs help build officers who can speak the mobility language and are well versed in all avenues of the mobility world," Colonel Rank said. "This helps ensure that we have mobility representation at all spectrums of leadership."

Although conducting a consolidated board is new to AMC, the concept of professionally developing its officers is not.

"AMC has had the benchmark (professional development) program for the Air Force," the colonel said. "Our executive development branch has been developing career progression programs that have essentially accomplished the force development construct for almost 10 years."

Phoenix Hawk is a two-year intern program that targets officers who have been in the Air Force for four to seven years. First, participants are given a one-year assignment in the Tanker Airlift Control Center, here, to learn more about global air mobility operations. They are then assigned to an AMC staff agency to learn effective staff skills.

Phoenix Reach, AMC's aviation crossflow program, takes the Air Force's top, young mobility pilots, between six to 14 years of service, and trains them to be true mobility officers by giving them experience in both the tanker and airlift avenues of the mobility mission.

While the board is only selecting participants for the two programs this year, it will add the mobility Weapons Instructor Courses next year and AMC officials are currently considering including other development opportunities, such as positions in the Air Mobility Operations Groups, in the near future, Colonel Rank said.