New Force Development Directorate taking shape

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

The Office of Special Investigations took a major step recently in fortifying its Line of Effort 1: “Develop and Sustain an Exceptional Force,” by standing up the first OSI Force Development (FD) Directorate.

The newest Directorate establishes OSI’s first full-time Officer Career Field Manager (CFM), previously an additional duty for a senior colonel, while operating under a charter with an end game of, “a diverse and highly qualified Total Force developed throughout their careers to execute, support, and lead criminal, counterintelligence, and fraud investigations and operations in multiple domains, enabled by a proactive, hunter mindset for threats and solutions.”

Veteran Special Agent and FD’s first full-time Director, Col. James L. Hudson, recalls how the fledgling Directorate came to fruition.

“It began as a discussion with (OSI Commander) Brig. Gen. (Terry L.) Bullard, about making the Officer CFM a full-time position. He had the vision to turn that initial discussion into something more robust that we hope, will eventually facilitate synchronization for career development and talent management across the Total Force to include our professional staff, analysts and reserve component,” Hudson said. “I believe serious discussions about standing up the Directorate began around January/February of 2020. (Then OSI Vice Commander) Col. Shan Nuckols did an amazing amount of work in getting a billet moved for the Director’s position as well as getting the concept staffed and through Headquarters Air Force for approval.”  

Hudson explained that FD has 12 primary Lines of Effort, but the main focus is currently in three areas: 1) Officer Career Field Manager and Senior Leader Management, including facilitation of Developmental Teams meetings/assignment matching; 2) Oversight of OSI's Diversity + Inclusion program/efforts; and 3) Talent Management, which includes outreach to other Government and non-Government organizations for best practices on recruitment, career management and retention as well as overseeing the officer mentorship program.

FD executes those responsibilities in a methodical manner among its three assigned members to fully assess its need for manpower and the allocation of duties. The Directorate is currently comprised of the Director Col. Hudson, Ms. Jakki Dixon the OSI D+I program manager, and Col. Bridget Graham, the OSI Reserve Component Officer Career Field Manager to help synchronize all Reserve issues. 

“We're small....but heavily engaged across the FD Lines of Effort,” Hudson emphasized.  

FD’s many objectives are being prioritized.

“Right now, based on our small size, it's being dictated by the calendar,” Hudson said. “For instance, as the Senior Leader Manager, I'm actively engaged with the Headquarters Air Force Colonels Group in working the assignment game plan for all OSI Colonels for summer 2022. As the CFM, I've also been engaged with the OSI Officer Assignments Team in our assignments game plan for Summer 2022. We just concluded our Winter Development Team meeting which was also a major undertaking as it included a very detailed and data driven Barrier Analysis project which we'll have to report to Headquarters Air Force.” 

Barrier Analysis is a deep-dive into OSI demographics in relation to promotion selections, command opportunities and development education programs to ensure barriers are not created for career advancement across OSI’s total work force. As those big projects conclude, the Directorate will turn its attention to more strategic efforts through outreach initiatives.  

Transitioning to the strategic level poses a formidable challenge for Hudson’s team.

“Right now, our challenge is time. With only three of us in the Directorate, the bulk of our focus has been at the tactical level, he said. “In order to fully realize the potential of the Directorate and for it to have long-lasting synergistic impact, we’ll need to get to the strategic level. As we build out the Directorate in a deliberate manner, we'll be able to increase our efficiency and effectiveness across OSI's full mission spectrum.”    

As FD grows, it’s exploring existing programs to manage. For example, the Air Force's Education with Industry Program, where select members are placed into corporate America to further develop understanding of how industry is addressing certain issues such as cyber security or supply chain security. Meanwhile, on the D + I front, Ms. Dixon has been working a variety of long-term projects such as development of an Exit Survey tool which will better help the command understand why its talent decides to leave OSI, allowing the command to better manage and retain its most critical asset...its people. Plus, Col. Graham will present a mission briefing at the Common Training Assembly (CTA) weekend in early January 2022. The CTA enables reservists to obtain updated information on the Individual Mobilization Augmentee program to help them manage their careers and stay current on readiness.    

“Getting the word out about what FD is and does is a great first step in achieving our goals,” Hudson said. “We already see folks come to FD for information regarding career management/ advancement options, mentorship and talent management. One of FDs lines of effort is Command Outreach, which includes staying in contact with all of our out of command personnel, starting with officers, to ensure they're keeping up with OSI's mission, so when they return, they can plug right back in.”   

OSI’s new Directorate is viewed by leadership as one with huge possibilities and potential, an opinion echoed by Hudson. 

“I'm humbled and excited that Brig. Gen. Bullard offered me the chance to return to OSI* and stand it up,” he said. “I'll only be in the position for two years before I hit mandatory retirement, so my overarching goal is to establish a solid base for the Directorate and set it up for whoever will come next to take it to the next level.”   

*Editor’s Note: Prior to his present assignment, Col. Hudson served as the Commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), Northwest Region. Headquartered at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. The Region’s 215 member cadre supported approximately 2,800 enrolled cadets at 34 university AFROTC detachments in 19 states.