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AMC pushes boundaries through innovative officer development programs

  • Published
  • By Sean Clements, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — In an operational environment where both sound decision making and innovative sense can mean the difference between victory and defeat, Air Mobility Command is leading the way by ensuring future battles and challenges will be placed in the hands of well-developed, bold leaders.

In an effort to continue pushing its Airmen to become successful leaders, AMC offers a variety of programs designed to develop company and field-grade officers who will make sure the mobility enterprise remains ready to deliver for years to come.


As an administrative extension of the Air War College’s Air Force Fellowship Program, senior military leaders select five highly-qualified, mobility pilots and/or navigators to participate in the Joint Mobility Fellows program, a one-year staff immersion at AMC headquarters. 

The fellows program is comprised of four pillars of academic engagement: Staff immersion, joint professional military education, strategic writing, and civilian post-graduate education. These four pillars are established to enable the selected officers to experience a wide-array of major command and combatant command responsibilities within a calendar year.

“This is one of the many programs the Air Force uses to prepare officers for command and staff jobs,” said Lt. Col. Jaron Roux, AMC Chief of Force Development. “As this program is heavily focused on the air mobility enterprise, it integrates how we work with United States Transportation Command and the 18th Air Force.”

The Mobility Fellows Program grants the participants an annual budget to explore initiatives and research issues through innovative approaches and outside-the-box thinking. Through visits with executives of several Fortune 500 companies including Boeing, Walmart, Google, Facebook and JP Morgan Chase, the fellows are able to gain new perspectives of supply chain management and organizational culture that they can integrate to make tomorrow’s Air Force stronger and more efficient.

“I don’t think there is any other program in the Department of Defense that provides more context outside the military than this,” said Maj. Justin Jarrell, AMC Mobility Fellow.

Being part of the prestigious fellows program not only allows the mobility officers to learn corporate culture from the experts, it also allows them the ability to raise awareness for issues they’ve seen during their career in the military. One mobility fellow, noticing a growing trend, decided to look closer into the issue of female Airmen leaving the service and the results were immediate.

“One of our fellows, Maj. Heidi Pallister, researched and wrote a paper on women’s retention issues,” said Roux. “Because of that research, we have gone on to plan development programs based on her paper such as helping military-to-military couples stay together while advancing both their careers.”

This is the type of forward-thinking initiative expected of program participants. Following completion of their one-year as a mobility fellow, these individuals will spend one assignment at Scott AFB with the hopes of growing change upon graduation.


Another AMC-sponsored force development program utilizes a trio of development opportunities to broaden leadership experience and expand an officer’s understanding of mission requirements. Separated into Phoenix Horizon-Torch, Mobility and Reach, these programs are tailored to give unique experiences to mobility officers.

Phoenix Horizon-Torch pairs a group of board-selected company grade officers with a general officer counterpart at HQ AMC, USTRANSCOM, or 18th Air Force. Throughout the two-year program, Air Force captains between 4-8 years in their career field will be assigned in a variety of staff officer roles in an effort to expand their leadership abilities and understanding of the global mobility mission.

The Torch Program, open to mobility pilots, navigators, maintenance officers and logisticians, is one tool for identifying and further developing high-performing officers early in their careers.

“Torch gives officers a much earlier look at how the MAJCOM staff runs,” said Roux. “The hope is that these officers will go back to their wings and share this new perspective with their counterparts.”

Roux continued by touting a unique aspect of the Torch program: it grants unparalleled access to mentoring from senior-level AMC officers, while also providing AMC leadership a distinctive understanding of issues affecting, in some cases, officers decades their junior.

During the Phoenix Horizon-Mobility program, 11M, 12M, 21A and 21R officers are assigned to CRW and en-route locations to gain extensive experience in mobility leadership and mission planning.

“In the rated community, you often don’t get a chance to lead outside of being an aircraft commander. What PH-M does is give you the chance to lead Airmen, and that experience was invaluable,” said Maj. Matt Hood, former PH-M for the 570th Contingency Response Support Squadron.

The third component, Phoenix Horizon-Reach, is focused on developing an officer’s flying proficiency on an additional aircraft followed by a year of squadron or group leadership roles. During the third year of the PH-R program, officers will serve in a wing leadership program to gain the insight into senior leader decision-making processes.

One challenge facing the staff element of Phoenix Horizon programs is educating young officers about the benefits and unique opportunities to contribute presented by becoming a participant.

“A lot of younger officers join to execute the mission,” said Roux. “They joined to fly, so we really rely on squadron commanders to identify the high-performing officers and push them toward it. It is hard to find a captain who voluntarily wants to leave a flying billet, therefore we want to present them the opportunity to work with senior leaders and really affect change.”

One program participant indicated that she was initially hesitant about leaving her flying billet, but quickly realized the value of expanding her perspective.

“While I was not looking forward to leaving a flying unit, I was interested in learning more about how the Air Force operates,” said Capt. Roberta Parker, AMC Torch participant. “I’ve been exposed to topics and processes I never knew existed and now I have a greater understanding of how our mobility Air Force operates.”

For officers looking to advance their career, expand their understanding of the Air Force, and support the global mission of AMC, solid developmental opportunities are within reach.

“If you’re interested at all in doing something outside the aircraft for a couple years, this is a great opportunity and will make you a better leader,” said Maj. Micah Vanderveen, former PH-M participant. “Looking back at some of the missions and accomplishments during the program, those are some of the most rewarding things I have done in the Air Force so far.”

Mobility pilots, navigator, maintenance and logistics CGOs may contact AMC/A1KO at for information on becoming a Joint Mobility Fellows or Phoenix Horizon participant.

For information on AMC development opportunities for general schedule civilian employees, please visit the links below: