Region 2 develops leaders via innovative course creation

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

Office of Special Investigations Field Investigations Region 2 did not re-invent the wheel – they made it roll more effectively.

During the past year, the OSI Directorate of Personnel and Manpower collected exit survey feedback from young officers choosing to separate. The feedback revealed a primary reason for leaving OSI is that company grade officers felt unprepared for command. 

Enter Region 2’s Flight Commander’s Leadership Course (FCLC) to help address this by jumpstarting CGO preparations for future detachment command, helping them grow their peer networks, giving them an opportunity to hear first-hand from proven leaders/mentors, and walking away with useful resources that will set them, and those they lead, up for success throughout their OSI careers. 

The basic course premise is not new. Air University designed its Flight Commander’s Course (FCC) to incorporate both AU-developed leadership courses and locally developed courses which has been around for a few years.

“We carefully selected our topics by surveying interest with attendees and their supervisors to determine what skills/familiarity they need most as OSI CGOs,” said Col. Tara Lunardi, 2 FIR Commander. “They picked some really great topics in the pre-course survey, the highest ranked blocks included conflict management, developing others, communications in command and leading change. 

“We developed OSI-specific courses, including combat leadership, bullet writing and OPRs, diversity plus inclusion, total force integration, program management/management internal control toolset, officer assignments, and mentorship,” Col. Lunardi added. “We leveraged 2 FIR Individual Mobilization Augmentee, Lt. Col. Shannon Merlo, to build this course and tailor what Region 6 did with their FCC version, to Region 2 CGOs, and revise the name to FCLC to be more reflective of OSI command.” 

During the four Wednesdays in May FCLC was conducted virtually via Zoom, Lt. Col. Merlo, while assigned in Beijing, China, had to overcome significant time zone challenges.

“We couldn’t have pulled this off successfully without her,” lauded Col. Lunardi.

In all, 20 attendees volunteered to attend this course from across the command. Of the 20, there were 11 men and nine women. Ten were second lieutenants, five were first lieutenants, and five were captains. There were seven prior-enlisted officers. 

“We deliberately created an environment to promote peer mentorship and networking,” Col. Lunardi said. “One of our goals in this course was for them to learn as much from each other as they do from the speakers and mentors.”

Four Region 2 mentors facilitated each day of the course with lessons, encouraging conversation, sharing their own leadership experiences, providing mentorship, and forming a tight group among the attendees. 

“They were absolutely the backbone of this effort and crucial to its success,” said Col. Lunardi.

Equally instrumental was the group of 10 facilitators and speakers, including OSI Commander Brig. Gen. Terry L. Bullard, who shared his senior leadership perspective. Other command subject matter experts discussed combat leadership, conflict management, assignments, developing others, D+I efforts, and the total force. One-on-one career mentoring sessions were offered to each attendee throughout the month of Wednesdays.   

Since the vast majority of attendees found the sessions to be a valuable investment, Region 2 plans to offer them again in 2022. Each CGO earned an FCLC certificate for completing all four days. However, their primary takeaway was a draft Leadership Philosophy and Expectation Letter, which they will continue to hone and use in their future units.

Attendee feedback proved to be most encouraging.

“Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to join this Region 2 course. The course felt very “real” and I appreciated how vulnerable and up front all the mentors were,” said Special Agent Danielle Vizzone. “This course was executed very well. I learned a lot and also gained some confidence in areas I did not know I was even lacking.”

Anonymous survey feedback echoed SA Vizzone’s.

“I would not remove any of these blocks (of instruction). They were all valuable and allowed for great conversation,” wrote one attendee. “I really enjoyed hearing from the different perspectives.”

“I’ve been asking for a course like this since I joined the military three years ago,” wrote another. So, I was incredibly excited when this pilot course was offered.”

“My biggest takeaways were we will not be fired for making normal mistakes, and finding my leadership philosophy and writing it down," said a third attendee.

Col. Lunardi cited the need for FCLC.

“We feel it’s important to highlight these unique efforts because they go directly to the heart of OSI’s Line of Effort #1…Developing and Retaining our Exceptional Force,” she said.