Air Guard leaders take charge of their careers


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They couldn’t speak to one-another. Using hand signals and the goofiest facial expressions I’ve ever seen, they were forced to communicate. Each obstacle brought different challenges – they had to work together to overcome them.

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Those fearful of heights, falling into the water, etc. – had the biggest struggles. I could see the fear in their eyes, their bodies trembling…lucky for them, they had Airmen on their teams who either weren’t fearful of those things, or didn’t show it, to help them overcome their fears. The teamwork and collaboration was extremely impressive.

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Did anyone fall into the water? Unfortunately not, I would’ve enjoyed watching that a bit too much (and the photos would’ve been awesome!) I did, however, capture photos of determination, of struggle, and of complete happiness after accomplishing a task that may not have looked very easy at the beginning of it.

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Today, I watched Airmen from across the state of Wisconsin kick off the final in-residence portion of the 2nd Annual State Enlisted Development Program. Completing the obstacles at the Leadership Development Course won’t be their only accomplishment this week. By the time they graduate Thursday, they will have accomplished many more tasks – writing exercises, counseling/feedback workshops, open ranks, retreat, the list goes on.

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This program gives higher-ranking Airmen a chance to develop their leadership skills, so they can better serve the Airmen they supervise. Throughout the year they are required to attend various leadership courses, complete coursework online and volunteer their time to help numerous organizations in the area.

During the final three days of the SEDP, they are pushed to their limits – and I get to watch every single minute of it! I get to witness our future leaders in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, prepare to lead our organization.

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After one day of observation, I’m ready to join them. If you’d like to join me on next year’s SEDP adventure, speak with your first sergeant for an application. After what I saw today, you won’t want to miss out! Let’s work together to continually improve the organization we love – the Air National Guard.

About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.