I celebrated the New Year with the attendees at the Kansas Wing Encampment. It was my honor to attend the encampment dinner, complete with a Grog Bowl, and speach on leadership and integrity. I shared the story of a lawyer who worked for the mob and a pilot who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor with attendees. It’s always fun to watch cadets and seniors celebrate their accomplishments. My thanks to Kansas Wing for the invitation to visit encampment and speak. Also, congratulations on a job well done to the staff of the encampment.

On 5 January, I participated in a Webinar that provided CAP leadership with a tour of the online Unit Commander’s Course. The online UCC is just one of the products that the sub-group of the Leadership Development Working Group I lead developed. Developing the online UCC allowed me to share my day job skills with CAP and support one of my passions—professional development. In many ways, we are raising the bar with the new UCC because we found through survey data that members were not well prepared to take on command of a squadron. The new course endeavors to better prepare members for command through a variety of topics and exercises. The course is being beta-tested in several wings including Nebraska and jointly in Kansas and Missouri. The new course requires students to do the reading in advance and take quizzes on the Learning Management System before attending a two day class. The new course employs the flipped learning modality and we hope it is well received by students. The course will require more of the members who complete it but we hope it puts new tools in your command tool box so you can have a satisfying and less stressful leadership experience.

On 9 January, I participated in a conference call with General Myrick and other members of the CSAG to plan the Command Council meeting in Washington DC in March. We collected feedback from the leaders who attended Wing Commander’s College as well as others and our task was to mold it into a cohesive agenda. I always enjoy working with the other members of the CSAG. On this occasion, I worked with Col John Knowles, Mr. Paul Gloyd, and others. In the end, we came up with a list of sessions that we hope will engage all those in attendance. I, for one, am excited about having time to meet in person with the North Central Region Wing Commanders. It is rare for our group to have time to meet in person. We normally conduct our business by conference call. For the meeting in DC, we will tackle the important topics of recruiting and retention. Each wing commander in NCR is going to read a chapter in a book and teach the other leaders in the region how to apply the book to what we do as volunteer leaders. I am very excited at this opportunity and I know I will learn a lot from my colleagues. The impact should help our region grow and have more satisfied members. Our goal is to grow the region by 1% overall by December 2017.

On 14 January, we began the pilot of the online UCC. I am very excited to teach the pilot course. Online learning is what I do for my college. This was another way for me to share my day job skills with CAP. We have some highly motivated students and several future instructors in the course. As an academic dean, I don’t often get the opportunity to teach so I am thrilled to have this opportunity to help shape and equip other leaders for their duties.

On 19 January, I had a conference call with the NCR wing commanders. We talked about recruiting and retention as well as the need to replace the compliance culture with one that is forward looking. I speak with the wing commanders each month in the same way they communicate with their subordinate unit commanders. It is important for us to share expertise, provide advice to each other, and share best practices. For example, in February the Kansas Wing Commander is going to share a couple of non-CAP awards with the other wing commanders. These may prove a valuable tool for the other commanders to use in recognizing their members.

On 26 January we had the LDWG call. This is the group led by Col Mark Smith that is revamping professional development for several different groups in CAP. I provided an update on the progress of the new UCC. I also provided an update on the Just In Time guide that will help new commanders until they can complete UCC.

On 29 January I hosted a webinar for the onine UCC. Our topic was why one might serve. Squadron commander is a tough job and there is a lot to balance. So, why would people take on this challenge? There are many reasons that range from “someone had to step up” to “I have goals and I can lead the squadron toward success”. One theme that came through was that it is very rewarding in that one can see the impact of their actions very clearly at the unit level. Week in and week out the work done at the units keep people in CAP. We also talked a little about culture and how a commander can make the unit culture a positive one. We had a case study from CAPTalk that shared why a member was thinking about not renewing. We talked about how a commander can counter the issues the member shared and make CAP a positive experience. It was a great discussion and I can’t wait until we gather next time to discuss another important topic.

On 30 January I participated in a conference call with the directors of the onsite UCC pilot, members of the NHQ staff, etc. This call was to orient the directors of the onsite pilot courses. I am pleased that Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri volunteered to test the course. Col Steve Kuddes in Nebraska Wing will direct a course in Grand Island the weekend of February 25. Col John O’Neill will direct a joint Kansas/Missouri class in Kansas City the same weekend. Col O’Neill has invited me to teach the Commander’s Dashboard and Leadership and I am excited for the opportunity.

Several members of the region have recently volunteered to take on additional duties in serving as reviewers on new regulations. I want to thank Col Walt Vollmers of North Dakota Wing for helping us review on the new CAPR 20-3 Inspections. Major Joe St. Clair of Missouri Wing is working as a reviewer on CAPR 35-9 Board of Governors and Region and Wing Commander Selection Procedures. Thanks to Lt Col Jeff Morris of North Central Region for reviewing CAPR 110-1 Internet Operations. And to Lt Col Mark Lahan of Kansas Wing for reviewing CAPR 60-1 Cadet Programs. These stalwart volunteers help comprise Napoleon’s Corporals, which is what the reviewers are called.

I want to shamelessly plug a few upcoming events. First we have a Region Staff College in Nebraska Wing in June under the leadership of Col Steve Kuddes. It is scheduled to run 17-24 June 2017. Second, we have a Region Cadet Leadership School in Missouri Wing in July when they have their wing encampment. More information will be forthcoming for this event. We also have a Region Staff College scheduled in Kansas City in December. This course will run between Christmas and New Years. Major Austin Worcester, the course director, and Major Kevin Oliver, the project officer, are busy planning some great activities including a tour of the World War I museum and a dinner at the National Airline History Museum. This will be an event that offers so much value! We are also currently scheduling a Region Cadet Leadership School for fall that we hope will be in South Dakota. The region is attempting to offer strong activities that will engage the members and compliment what the wings do. We hope to move them around the region and provide great experiences for our members.

In January, Col David Winters joined the region staff as the Deputy Chief of Staff in Cadet Programs. He brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the position and I am excited to see what he will do in this position. We have many activities we wish to offer the cadets of the region. We wish Col Winters luck. I am sure the wings will be hearing from him, if they have not already.

Congratulations to C/Col Zophia Raleigh of Minnesota Wing on earning Spaatz Award #2086. The Spaatz Award is a rare achievement and I know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to CAP.

Congratulations to new Lieutenant Colonel Doug Dutton of Kansas Wing. Lt Col Dutton lends his expertise in Finance to the wing and his substantial pilot skills as well. Congratulations to Major Marcel Kobberdahl from Nebraska Wing and Chaplain (Lt Col) Larry Biederman of Kansas Wing who earned the Gill Robb Wilson Award. Like the Spaatz Award, this achievement requires much dedication and hard work. It is the final achievement in the senior program.

Congratulations to C/2d Lt Hannah Compton of Nebraska Wing who earned three nominations to service academies. Cadet Compton serves admirably on the NCR CAC. Congratulations are also in order for C/Lt Col Boaz Fink, serving on the NCR staff, who earned an AFROTC Type 1 Scholarship to any school of his choosing for engineering. This scholarship would pay for all tuition and a monthly living stipend, which only the top 5% of applicants receive.

In Emergency Services area, Kansas Wing had an ELT find on 24 January. NCR wings continue to support the New York Wing Predator chase mission. Wildlife surveys continued in South Dakota. Kansas Wing continued to support the American Red Cross on 11 transport missions. North Dakota wing participated on a missing person search. Nebraska Wing planned AFJROTC flights and deer spotting missions.

February looks to be a busy month as we prepare for Legislative Day, annual award submissions, and history submissions.