Poland's top enlisted airman tours PME facilities
Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski, the top enlisted advisor for the Polish air force, visited the Ramstein First Term Airman's Center, Kisling NCO Academy, and the Airman Leadership School Sept. 17-19. The trip included an overview of the academic curriculum, multiple sessions of observing instructors interact with students, and one-on-one discussions with the enlisted leaders of both PME facilities.
Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski participates in a Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy class Sept. 18, 2013, Kapaun Air Station, Germany. Also participating in the discussion is 3rd Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark D. Marson (far right). The visit gave the Polish Senior NCO leader a chance to further military relations and improve military education operations.
2 photos: Poland's top enlisted airman tours PME facilities
Photo 1 of 2: Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski participates in a Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy class Sept. 18, 2013, Kapaun Air Station, Germany. Also participating in the discussion is 3rd Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark D. Marson (far right). The visit gave the Polish Senior NCO leader a chance to further military relations and improve military education operations. Download full-resolution version
Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Moore (far left), Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, gives a tour to Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski (second from right) and his staff Sept. 17, 2013, at Kapaun Air Station, Germany. The visit gave the Polish senior NCO leaders a chance to further military relations and improve military education programs for Polish airmen.
2 photos: Poland's top enlisted airman tours PME facilities
Photo 2 of 2: Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Moore (far left), Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, gives a tour to Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski (second from right) and his staff Sept. 17, 2013, at Kapaun Air Station, Germany. The visit gave the Polish senior NCO leaders a chance to further military relations and improve military education programs for Polish airmen. Download full-resolution version
Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski participates in a Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy class Sept. 18, 2013, Kapaun Air Station, Germany. Also participating in the discussion is 3rd Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark D. Marson (far right). The visit gave the Polish Senior NCO leader a chance to further military relations and improve military education operations.
Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Moore (far left), Kisling Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, gives a tour to Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski (second from right) and his staff Sept. 17, 2013, at Kapaun Air Station, Germany. The visit gave the Polish senior NCO leaders a chance to further military relations and improve military education programs for Polish airmen.

KAPAUN AIR STATION, Germany -- Poland's air force senior enlisted leader is partnering with U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa officials to strengthen his service's operational capacity. But his efforts are focused on a more foundational level of airpower - enlisted professional military education.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski, the top enlisted advisor for the Polish air force, visited the Ramstein First Term Airman's Center, Kisling NCO Academy, and the Airman Leadership School Sept. 17-19. The trip included an overview of the academic curriculum, multiple sessions of observing instructors interact with students, and one-on-one discussions with the enlisted leaders of both PME facilities.

Partnership-building activities between USAFE-AFAFRICA and the Polish air force aren't new. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the two have shared a strong alliance. For proof, look no further than the establishment of a U.S. aviation detachment at Lask Air Base, Poland, in 2012; recurring air exercises such as Screaming Eagle and Brilliant Ardent that seek to improve the interoperability of the two air forces; and the 2010 agreement made between the 86th Airlift Wing here, and the 3rd Airlift Wing at Powidz Air Base, Poland, to become sister wings.

Now that the air operational side of this relationship appears solid, Gadowski is attempting to glean best practices from USAFE-AFAFRICA's professional military education programs.

"It's nice to see the U.S. Air Force system myself, especially the education system for NCOs," said Gadowski. "I hope that some parts of this system I will be able to adopt for our NCO education system."

Gadowski was particularly impressed with the leadership focus he observed during his visit.

"I really like how you teach leadership to young NCOs," he said. "We have a few courses for our senior NCOs, but we need more for our young NCOs. I want to take your style back to Poland as much as possible."

In an era where both economic and security challenges are increasingly becoming permanent fixtures across the European landscape, Gadowski understands the need to boost his force's partnership capacity.

"(USAFE-AFAFRICA) Airmen have great combat experience," he said. "As a NATO member, Polish airmen have to achieve the same standard, so we have to learn from our (USAFE-AFAFRICA) partners.

"For many years, we have been working to adopt our NCO system to yours, so that we can make our NCO corps stronger," he continued.

Poland is a priority nation in terms of the Air Force's Building Partnership Capacity initiative, a core function of airpower doctrine.

"This is basically a continuation of our strong partnership with Poland's air force that started about three years ago," said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Moore, NCOA commandant. "Our two air forces are already partnering on a more operational level, but from a leadership and management capacity, this is how we are helping them professionalize their NCO corps.

"This is really important, because when we deploy together we can interoperate and take care of the mission," Moore said. "In my opinion, all of that starts with enlisted force development."

Throughout the three-day visit, Gadowski was invited into different classrooms to observe actual academic instruction, allowing him to gauge the interaction between instructor and students that serves as the foundation of PME training.

One such session piqued Gadowski's attention during a profession-of-arms discussion.

"As a punk kid from Oakland, I pretty much knew there were certain places where I just shouldn't go," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Cravo, an NCOA instructor. "But I can't remember a time when I've pulled up to an Air Force gate and thought, 'Man, I don't know if I can trust this place.'

"That never happens, because this uniform gains you instant access to support and assistance from other people wearing this same uniform," he said. "To me, that's pretty special to be a part of."

As the students listened to Cravo relay his life experiences, many nodded their heads in agreement.

"He is a good instructor," whispered Gadowski to Moore. "That is the type of instructor we need, very professional."

One of Cravo's students, Tech. Sgt Aaron Ramos, added to the discussion with a story of his own.

"I actually separated from the Air Force a few years back," said the aircraft technician. "I got a good job at a factory that makes dog food. I was making pretty good money.

"But, I really missed being a part of the Air Force," he said. "You just don't get stoked when a new bag of dog food rolls off the assembly line, but I really get stoked when I see a jet take off from a runway."

Although the comment elicited a few chuckles, Ramos' sincerity was unmistakable.

"He truly likes his job," said Gadowski, again in a whisper, "and I like his passion."

It's that type of professionalism and passion that Gadowski is looking to take back to his enlisted airmen. But he knows it's not an easy task.

"The Polish air force has many years of tradition," said Gadowski. "Tradition is not easy to change. But what I see here with the education system would be a good change for our air force."

Gadowski pointed to one key observation he made during his tour of USAFE-AFAFRICA installations - the high levels of responsibility frequently given to NCOs. Based on his air force's tradition, critical duties are typically reserved for senior NCOs or officers.

To highlight his point, Gadowski relayed a story about a young Polish NCO.

"He was really good at his job, whatever he did," said Gadowski. "Once he did a job (of) calling down a (mock) airstrike during an exercise. This is the job usually done by someone much higher ranking. But the NCO did the job beautifully.

"The word was spreading that this NCO had done such a wonderful job," Gadowski continued, "and what was so amazing to many people was his rank. Some people had never seen an NCO take (on) so much responsibility."

Adopting a more cutting-edge approach to airpower is a daunting task for any leader, especially when it involves developing and empowering an entire enlisted corps.

For that reason, Poland's top airman doesn't mind going back to the classroom, especially if the lessons learned are exactly what he needs to take his air force to the next level.
 

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