Airman shadows wing commander as part of leadership development program

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Senior Airman Amy Daub's stripes weighed a little more Oct. 17 and 18.

The 460th Medical Group Airman shadowed 460th Space Wing Commander Col. David Ziegler over the two days as part of the commander shadow program.

"It's been really good," Airman Daub said. "I have really gained a deeper understanding of what he does behind the scenes."

Airman Daub accompanied Colonel Ziegler to meetings, briefings, meet-and-greets and various other activities over the span of the two days.

"He is a very busy man," she said.

The program, which gives a junior enlisted member an opportunity to get an in-depth look at what Colonel Ziegler does on a day-to-day basis, started up around April, the colonel said. It was an idea an Airman suggested during a leadership offsite retreat in February.

"I told Buckley group commanders to think of their sharpest troops," the commander said.

The program started out as a one-day shadow, but Colonel Ziegler and the Airmen who participated soon realized that one day wasn't enough to get a good perspective, so he extended it to two.

After a calendar review meeting to pick the best days for someone to shadow him, Colonel Ziegler invites the groups' best along.

"We try to pick the best days, where they will get a broader scope of what I do," he said.

He said one Airman got to watch the North Korean crisis unfold and witness high-priority decisions being made. Another Airman was wined and dined during a luncheon with community leaders and politicians.

One standard in the program a mission brief from the colonel, so the Airman can at least grasp the concept of the base mission if they don't get to witness it during the program.

"People are more effective when they understand the broader picture on a day-to-day basis," Colonel Ziegler said.

He said he believes the program could produce future chief master sergeants because it might motivate them and give them a chance to see the people, mission and base support.

Colonel Ziegler and Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Candler, 460th Space Wing command chief, are planning to extend the shadow program to have junior officers shadow Chief Candler.

"We want to mix officers and enlisted members to broaden the scope," he said, noting the importance of enlisted members' duties. "Our first-line supervisors have more influence on our troops than I do. They carry the lion's share of responsibility when it comes to shaping our future forces."