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CAA spearheads Offutt professional development

Senior Master Anthony Thompson Jr., 55th Wing Career Assistance Advisor, has charted a year-long plan to execute the commander’s intent to "build leaders." According to AFI 36-2624, The Career Assistance Advisor, First Term Airmen Center and Enlisted Professional Enhancement Programs, the CAA  acts as principal advisor to commanders and supervisors on retention issues  and assists unit-level commanders and superintendents in the development of superior front-line supervisors by creating learning opportunities to support desired audiences.

Senior Master Anthony Thompson Jr., 55th Wing Career Assistance Advisor, has charted a year-long plan to execute the commander’s intent to "build leaders." According to AFI 36-2624, The Career Assistance Advisor, First Term Airmen Center and Enlisted Professional Enhancement Programs, the CAA acts as principal advisor to commanders and supervisors on retention issues and assists unit-level commanders and superintendents in the development of superior front-line supervisors by creating learning opportunities to support desired audiences.

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- “The 55th Wing will be a learning organization.”

With that statement at a recent commander’s update briefing, Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, provided Senior Master Anthony Thompson Jr., the 55th Wing’s new Career Assistance Advisor, a mandate, and empowered him to improve the unit by building leaders using all the resources at his disposal.

Thompson has responded by charting a year-long plan to execute the commander’s intent.

Each quarter of 2018 has a particular focus area. The 16-year senior non-commissioned officer will then offer multiple professional development classes centered on that topic.

“Some classes will be open to anyone interested in attending and some will be more narrowly-targeted toward a specific range of Airmen,” Thompson said.

The first quarter’s theme is “Joint Perspective;” the second is “Revitalizing the Squadron;” the third is “Team Offutt Mission Sets;” and finally “Coalition Forces.”

The curriculum and materials for the individual classes, briefings and guest speaking events will be a mix of those developed in-house by Thompson; others will be leveraged as best-practices from other Air Force CAAs; and some will be provided by the guest speakers themselves.

According to Thompson, Offutt’s strong emphasis on building leaders and professional development shouldn’t be taken for granted and hasn’t always been the norm at other bases in his experience.

“In addition to the traditional professional development touchstones like Airman Leadership School or NCO Academy, I have seen individual squadrons here or there who have gone above and beyond,” Thompson said. “But nowhere have I seen a grassroots wing-wide emphasis on building leaders and professional development like here.”

A testament like that from someone with Thompson’s experience shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The wing’s new CAA has a diverse and multifaceted background. This duty is his fifth job in the Air Force. Thompson initially started out as a heavy equipment operator in civil engineering before retraining into admin before transitioning to the recruiting career field. First sergeant duty at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico followed before arriving in the Midwest.

Initially, Thompson was the functional manager for admin personnel on Offutt, then the superintendent of the wing’s command section and was eventually given the opportunity to excel as the base CAA.

“I love change and I love the opportunity to engage with people,” Thompson said. “My first responsibility is to oversee the First Term Airman Center to make sure new Airmen get acclimated to the base and set them up for success in their new Air Force life. Secondly, I provide one-on-one career counseling leveraging my breadth of experience to help individuals however I can whether they are considering retraining, a developmental special duty, or things of that nature,” he said.

“Finally, I’m responsible for professional development,” he added. “It’s a big part of why this position exists because we want to transform and help every Airman – E-1 to O-6 – maximize their personal and professional potential.”

For more information on course availability, contact your unit’s first sergeant or leadership team.