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Top DoD enlisted member mentors 332nd AEW Airmen on leadership

  • Published
  • By MSgt Jefferson Thompson
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing

The First U.S. Air Force Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SEAC) joined the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, virtually March 10, to discuss leadership qualities he is working to inculcate across the entire enlisted force.

The appearance is part of a leadership curriculum he developed several years ago specifically for special operations enlisted units, but which has proven useful to both officers and enlisted service members.

Dubbed “Carnivore Leadership” at the time of its conception Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, wrote then, “My aim is to provide our Service’s Carnivore Warriors a proactive perspective on leadership.”

As a decorated pararescue Airman, he explains the genesis for the training saying, “I have learned that success in life is attributed to well taught, unselfish, charismatic figures that were given an opportunity to make a difference.”

The 332nd Airmen began studying this curriculum four weeks ago and as a capstone event requested a virtual question and answer session with the SEAC.

“This event today [is] to talk about Carnivore Leadership, ‘what the hell is that?’” he said by way of introduction in his straightforward way. He explained that in order to pass along hard-won lessons he had “to make it more real, more balanced and more grounded—that was the birth of carnivore leadership.”

One Airman, Staff Sgt. Cierra Shelrud from the command post, asked him why he cross-trained from his original career field, traffic management, or TMO in Air Force parlance, into a career track with a very high failure rate—pararescue.

He responded that he needed a way to channel his energy and a career that suited his talents, “by the time that I completed the two-year pipeline that was the day that I can clearly tell you that I understood in this life what my purpose was, what my talents and abilities were here to do.”

He explained to another Airman that he was less enthusiastic about becoming a command chief because he felt it would take him away from that purpose, that of special operations, however he relented as time passed and he found the opportunity to pass along wisdom to future leaders.

One of his silver bullets reads, “Luck is when preparation and opportunity meet,” a philosophy that espouses preparation for an opportunity and the courage to “spring into action” when it materializes.

Leadership attributes like this have propelled him to the highest enlisted rank in the land despite reflecting at one point in the evening that he was never motivated by his career path. He explained that to the audience that he left one assignment without receiving an end of tour decoration, usually something that stops a senior NCOs career progression with finality.

In closing his remarks he explained that genuine dialogue sets a leader up for success, “go ahead and talk about your failures, that is really where the key is at… if you’re open about what you have experienced without being embarrassed about it just saying hey, ‘don’t do what I did,’ you’re going to get a lot more people set up for success.”