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Colorado and Jordan share leadership development

US Airman and Jordanian Airmen are in a tank

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Hannah Fell, the 140th Wing Medical Group, is shown the inside of a Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army tank by an instructor with the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Members of the Colorado Air National Guard spent the day touring King Abdullah II Air Base and its ground defense equipment in Az Zarga, Jordan, April 16, 2019. The meeting between Jordanians and senior enlisted leaders aimed to foster strong relationships between forces as well as enhance Jordanian enlisted policy and practices. Jordan and Colorado have been partners through the National Guard State Partnership Program since 2004.

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Now in its 26th year, the National Guard's State Partnership Program has grown to 75 partnerships with 81 nations. The program joins a state's National Guard with a partner country's military to build relationships where both entities benefit from the experience.

The Jordan Armed Forces-Arab army hosted eight members of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard April 11-19, as part of Colorado's state partnership with Jordan, which dates to 2004.

In the case of this exchange, the JAF and COANG learned how each empowers its Non-commissioned Officers with duties and responsibilities.

"We are very impressed with your way of taking care of your NCOs," Royal Jordanian Air Force Warrant Officer Saleh Harbeshy said. "What impressed us most was how empowered they are, and the trust-building mechanisms used between the senior enlisted leaders, officers, and subordinates."

Harbeshy served as a guide for members of the COANG during a week of tours that included King Hussein Air College in Mafraq, Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Azraq, King Abdullah II Air Base in Az Zarga, as well as Prince Feisal Training Center and RJAF headquarters, both in Amman.

During the visit to King Abdullah II Air Base, RJAF Col. Emad Bazadokh called RJAF Command Chief of Ground Defense Ali Khildi the "clear eyes for the commander" and a "connecting link between officer and enlisted."

"What was most impressive was the value of empowering the NCOs and senior enlisted leaders' roles and responsibilities," Khildi said about a visit he'd made to Colorado to observe the COANG enlisted force.

As base commander, Bazadokh said a variety of "non-tangibles" need to be worked on for officers to instill more trust in NCOs. According to him, within the JAF, technical aspects of the job are emphasized and evaluated. However, he said non-technical aspects, like leadership or personality traits, have been recognized as an essential element in development requiring more attention when it comes to evaluating NCOs. For example, according to Bazadokh, the Quality Assurance Office primarily serves to address technical issues.

"In Jordan, we still go back to the officers for decision-making," Obeidat said. "In many cases, we neglect the enlisted point of view, even though those decisions could be affected by the enlisted personnel."

Obeidat, an aircraft maintenance engineer, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Having spent time training with both nations' air forces, he said he has become well versed on their differing leadership styles.

Muwaffaq Salti Air Base commander Col. Ahmad Al-Zghoul said that through job-shadowing, NCOs could become more empowered and entrusted with the training of lower-ranking Airmen, not relying so much on officers to make decisions on their behalf.

For those in technical fields such as maintenance and logistics, the JAF requires and provides the equivalent of an associate's degree. The Prince Feisal Training Center will graduate about 119 in 2019 after 24 weeks of military training and 16-20 weeks of academics. Graduates may then proceed to either aviation/mechanical fields or electrical engineering.

Great incentives for education exist through "bridging," by allowing the first two lowest ranks to continue their education in their career specialty at a university. Graduates earn a promotion.

The JAF's force is currently structured as an inverted pyramid, with more warrant officers and senior NCOs at the top and fewer lower enlisted at the bottom. The JAF said that they have made efforts to change this by using social media as a recruitment tool, with the idea in mind that younger people comprise the lower enlisted structure and are also the demographic most engaged in social media.

To date, according to the JAF, more than 90 percent of graduates make it to retirement. This is mainly due to their having a 12-year contract. Another contributor to the longevity of careers in the JAF is that the organization offers the opportunity for a long-term career, making the military more competitive than the civilian job market. As of May 2018, the PFTC had 8,994 alumni out of 11,000 original recruits.

The PFTC staff have recognized the value of the U.S. Air Forces' Brown and Blue Books as comprehensive NCO guides for its Airmen and have created their versions to implement within the JAF.

The JAF, with the assistance of the CONG, created and published the first ever JAF NCO Guide that is being distributed at their NCO academy. This guide provides doctrine on the JAF's NCO Corps regarding their roles and responsibilities.

This is just one example of U.S. and allied forces recognizing the value of one another's practices through a mutually beneficial exchange.

"Our armed forces creed is evidence that we value NCO roles, and His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein says that 'NCOs are the backbone of our Army,'" Khildi said. "I am dedicated to applying these principles here in Jordan."