News: Executive Leadership Development Program gets ‘electrifying’ experience during first ever participation in African Lion 2012
AGADIR, Morocco – It all begins on the yellow footprints. The moment a young Marine recruit makes the decision to earn the eagle, globe and anchor, he is skillfully and painstakingly groomed for leadership, instilled with the traits and skills he will continue to develop over the years. He is a warfighter, a leader of Marines – and his support networks want to know more about him.
In fact, one such support network – made up of Department of Defense and interagency leaders – wants to know more about all five of the military branches they serve, and they are willing to get down in the dirt to accomplish this. The Executive Leadership Development Program, founded in 1985 with the approval of the secretary of defense, provides this immersion training through a 10-month experience, one that brought them to Agadir, Morocco, to participate in exercise African Lion 2012, April 13-15.
This year’s ELDP participants include 48 DOD civilians, eight active-duty service members, two Department of Homeland Security civilians and one Department of Justice civilian. All had one thing in common – a desire to train with warfighters in a joint, interagency and multinational environment and to see how their policies and decisions affect those on the ground.
“The ELDP program is designed to provide a mechanism by which to develop us as leaders like our military develops its own leaders,” said Kimberly Kessler, director of the ELDP. “Whether you work for the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force or as DOD civilian, at the end of the day, we all have to work together.”
Kessler said this was the first time the ELDP was participating in AL-12 and they were very excited for the experience. AL-12 is a U.S. African Command-sponsored, Marine Forces Africa-led exercise that involves various types of training including command post, live-fire and maneuvering, peace support operations, an intelligence capacity building workshop, aerial refueling/low-level flight training, as well as medical and dental assistance projects.
The ELDP members were divided into two groups during their stay, and alternated between visiting Joint Task Force African Lion 12 training sites and experiencing the Moroccan culture first-hand.
For ELDP participant Kevin Mahoney, this was not only his first visit to the African continent, but an immersion experience that has given him a “better understanding of the DOD as a whole.”
“This visit has been phenomenal,” said Mahoney. “It’s turned out to be much more than I expected. The culture here is incredible … there is an atmosphere of such genuine, sincere hospitality.”
Other members had a different takeaway from the day’s events – their first experience getting tased. In keeping with the goal of “hands-on training,” several ELDP members volunteered for riot-control training with Marines and Moroccan forces conducting peace support operations in Tifnit, Morocco.
“It was truly an electrifying experience," deadpanned Air Force Maj. Zach Hall during a cultural dinner held for the ELDP members, a comment that elicited laughter from around the room and caused a few to wince at the recent memory.
During remarks at the dinner, Brig. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commanding general for Marine Forces Europe and Africa, tied the day’s events together for ELDP members eager to hear about his leadership experience and the job his Marines were doing during AL-12.
“The young men and women that wear the eagle, globe and anchor on their cover are proud, professional and proficient out there in the field,” said Chiarotti. “All I have to worry about is keeping up with them.”
Though their visit to AL-12 may have been short, ELDP members have experienced yet another real-world demonstration of joint, multi-national training that will leave a lasting impression along with the service members they have worked alongside.
“I personally loved getting to know the junior enlisted leaders,” said Mahoney. “I am consistently impressed with the caliber of our military members.”
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Date Posted:04.16.2012 05:27
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