Brig Gen John Klein: Developing Airmen at the USAF Expeditionary Center, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ

By By Ms. Allison Elliot, Staff Writer

“The U.S. Air Force [USAF] does an excellent job at not only developing leaders with expertise in their skillsets, but broadening them as well,” said Brig Gen John Klein, Vice Commander of the USAF Expeditionary Center (EC), Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), NJ.

“Developing the Force” is a vital component of Klein’s job within Air Mobility Command (AMC). “Developing Airmen gives us an asymmetric advantage as a service and as a mobility enterprise. AMC does this in a myriad of ways including education, training, exercises, developmental programs, and special assignments. The USAF Expeditionary Center contributes to all those efforts,” said Klein.

In addition to overseeing several wings and groups distributed across the globe, the USAF Expeditionary Center serves as the “center of excellence for rapid global mobility and expeditionary agile combat support training and education,” according to Klein.

The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School (EOS), which offers more than one hundred courses in advanced technical training and expeditionary skills, is a key part of the EC. The EOS trains nearly every Airman requiring pre-deployment training in an ever-evolving curriculum designed to prepare them for deployment to hostile or contingency environments.

The USAF Expeditionary Center is leveraging its corporate knowledge to help develop the Air Force’s response to the requirements of the National Defense Strategy, specifically the Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) concept. “DFE prioritizes the force structure and capability for major combat, while providing options for proactive and scalable employment of the joint force,” said Klein.

Agile Combat Employment (ACE) is the Air Force’s contribution to the DFE concept. To enable ACE, the USAF Expeditionary Center is specifically concerned with developing Airmen to be more agile and responsive in the battlespace. One of the EC’s new initiatives is developing the training baseline for Multi-Capable Airmen—“individuals trained in advanced expeditionary skills able to accomplish tasks outside of their core Air Force specialty”—to support ACE.

The evolving nature of the world requires these Multi-Capable Airmen. Some of the Air Force’s posture and employment models date back to the Cold War, Klein noted. The time has come for an update in practices. “We must become more adaptable to the uncertainty in the ever-changing global security environment,” said Klein.

Developing Airmen for adaptability in diverse and challenging environments is a crucial part of what Klein hopes to accomplish in his current position.

In order to employ the Right Airmen at the Right Place at the Right Time, we must first develop the Right Airman.”

“This [development] is a long process, but it’s something we must do at all echelons, across all career fields. That’s what makes our Air Force the best in the world—our Airmen,” he added.

The Advanced Study of Air Mobility (ASAM) degree program at the EOS is an essential training curriculum for Air Force mobility officers. For the officer, it is an opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Operations Management with a focus in Logistics in 11 months and have hands-on training in “solving operational and strategic issues.” Klein added, “They are also earmarked with a permanent advanced academic degree code in their records identifying them as ASAM alumni.”

For the Air Force, the ASAM program is building mobility experts for all environments. The program not only serves to build officers holistically, it is an important part of the USAF Expeditionary Center.

“ASAM was envisioned to mold future senior mobility leaders for the USAF and have graduates serve as key mobility advisors to warfighting commanders. The program builds a cadre of mobility experts steeped in concepts of air, sea, and land mobility,” said Klein.

The curriculum for the ASAM program involves classroom learning and real-world experience. Student officers “develop expertise in areas of joint transportation and logistics management, leadership, national security, warfare studies, joint forces and planning, and industrial entities with application to mobility,” according to Klein. “We broaden their perspective through developmental trips to [AMC], U.S. Transportation Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Pentagon, and the Indo-Pacific and European theaters.”

In addition to taking courses, the students also visit industry partners like CVS, Amazon, Atlas Air, and Boeing to study logistical practices in the commercial sector, Klein added.

Then, these officers are assigned to places like the Pentagon, Combatant Command headquarters, and AMC to apply their learning to challenging problem sets. “There, they gain experience solving operational and strategic issues, further developing them as future mobility leaders,” said Klein.

For his part, the Air Force has afforded Klein with many opportunities for education, training, and experience, which he hopes to put to use in developing the future of the USAF.

“I feel absolutely privileged to be part of the USAF Expeditionary Center team. Due to my time in the Contingency Response Wing a decade ago, I came into the USAF Expeditionary Center with a fairly good idea about its mission and structure. That said, it’s a rare day that I don’t learn something new about what we do. The impact our Airmen and contractors have upon the combat capability of our Air Force is inspiring—they always rise to the occasion, no matter the challenge. We have incredibly talented teams, a dynamic mission, and global impact—if you want to be part of making important things happen, this is the place to be,” stated Klein.