148 (Barnsley) Squadron

Royal Air Force Air Cadets


Barnsley Air Cadet Attends International Leadership Course

The Cadet Officer School is the Civil Air Patrol’s – US Air Cadet equivalent – premier leadership training course, and I was lucky enough to join the 51st course along with 5 other North Region Cadets and 6 from Canada. This marked the first time the school was opened to international candidates, marking an exciting development in the school’s history.

After flying out from the UK we arrived at Maxwell AFB to meet our flights and find our accommodation. The course comprised of a lecture-seminar style of learning, involving a range of lectures from expert speakers such as Lt Gen Heithold, Colonel Sergey and Chief Vasquez, author ofHeirpower!. These lectures were on a range of leadership related subject areas and followed by a flight seminar where we discussed and analysed the content, under the guidance of instructors from a range of services, to learn how it could affect us as growing leaders.

To assist in learning the advanced leadership concepts, cadets took part in a range of Team Leadership Problems, which tested our teamworking and leadership abilities in difficult exercises designed to test our communication, resiliency and debriefing skills. TLPs formed an important part of the curriculum, preparing us for Project X, an assessed Leadership Reaction Course designed to push our team beyond our perceived capabilities – for many Project X became the highlight of the course overall.

Alongside the guided learning environment, cadets completed a rigorous academic program involving assessed writing exercises throughout the course, verbal communication assessments and numerous readings. These culminated in our final Capstone Assessment, which was designed to test our evaluation of concepts taught throughout the course, as well as a formal examination to test our understanding and an individual character assessment from the flight instructors.

Sports were used throughout the program to test and develop teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills, resulting in a final championship. Additionally, visits to sites such as the National Memorial Centre for Peace and Justice, allowed candidates to see how leaders can impact the world for better or for worse and inspired them to consider why leadership, ethics and responsibility are intertwined.

After the assessments were complete, graduating cadets attended a banquet with speeches from the course directors, presentations of graduation certificates and special awards.

Overall, attending COS was an amazing opportunity and it was a privilege to be in the first cohort to include international students – cultural immersions such as attending Independence Day Celebrations were very special opportunities. The course taught me a great number of skills and lessons which I look forward to bringing home to pass onto 148’s cadets – the COS experience is truly unique, and I would encourage any cadets to apply for it if they get the opportunity.

Flt Sgt Jamie Butler