News: American, British forces join for leadership development
Story by Staff Sgt. Thomas Trower
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Airmen from RAFs Mildenhall and Lakenheath joined their British Royal Air Force counterparts to build cross-service relations and military skills during Leadership, Ethos and Air Power Day at RAF Marham Nov. 9.
The program provides 275 hours of activity focused on developing physical and practical qualities in military service members. The camp holds the event about three times a year, and 40 events were spread across the camp, said Flt. Lt. Timothy Serrell-Cooke, RAF Marham Force Development Flight officer in charge and event organizer.
The participants are a mixture of all ranks, said Serrell-Cooke. LEAP Day provides an opportunity for airmen to work together with others who they normally wouldn't. That ensures service members can work together quickly in an emergency.
Participants learn about other leadership styles and how they can best be applied, said Flt. Lt. Levi Birch, RAF Marham Force Development Flight officer in charge. The 40 U.S. airmen were disbursed with RAF airmen into 55 groups, or modules.
"LEAP day at RAF Marham was a great opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our RAF cousins and to experience the fundamentals and values they instill in their airmen," said Staff Sgt. Ronald Cooney, 100th Air Refueling Wing Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century office. "We can always grow from experiences outside of the norm, especially with a foreign service."
"The most challenging event is the ropes course. It tests an individual's courage and commitment to conquer their fears with the help of his or her team," said Birch.
Staff Sgt. Samantha Webb, 48th Security Forces Squadron, traversed the high-ropes course amidst near freezing temperatures and a dense English fog. Several of the obstacles were about 50 feet high, and students were belayed for safety.
"Although you can rely on the person holding your rope, it's all up to you," said Webb. "I was really anxious to be a part of [LEAP Day]. Everyone needs to learn leadership and teamwork."
Webb sais she plans on sharing the skills she learned with her coworkers.
Cooney said he now had a better understanding of the RAF.
"Sometimes in the Air Force, we tend to get tunnel vision by concentrating on the day-to-day mission," he said. "It's quite interesting to see things from a slightly different perspective."
"[The ropes course] looks high from the ground, but it looks much higher from the top," said Cpl. Simon Bradley, Module 52 leader. "This was great to learn and push through my fears. For myself, it was a good opportunity to lead and work with the [U.S. Air Force]."
"Together we can develop a better understanding of each other," said Serrell-Cooke. "We can apply these skills in an austere environment. In operations in Afghanistan we work hand-in-glove."
He continued to say a strong understanding of each nation's military can help the whole team work better together.