Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point -- The Marine Corps, and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, take flight leadership very seriously.
In order to qualify in certain leadership positions such as mission commander, pilots must complete a program of instruction that tests and validates their abilities and knowledge.
The Flight Leadership Standardization Evaluators program allows developing flight leaders to have a fresh set of eyes to observe and offer insight and instruction on technical skills, tactics and weapons employment beyond standard levels, according to Maj. Nicholas Waldron, an FLSE program coordinator for EA-6B Prowler pilots with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“A great benefit to the program is that it also allows us as evaluators to provide insight to pilots that they might not get if the squadron were to go at it alone,” said Waldron.
Each squadron maintains flight leadership coordinators who have the ability to qualify other pilots within their squadron, according to Waldron. The difference between coordinators and evaluators are that the evaluators can qualify the coordinators as well as potential flight leaders.
“It is our job as flight leadership standardization evaluators to give an extra check to ensure everything is safely and effectively conducted across (all the different types of aircraft) within the wing,” said Waldron.
The program also provides the commanding general insight into the flight leadership and development throughout 2nd MAW to ensure combat readiness and operation excellence, he said.
Each evaluator is a highly skilled and experienced aviator with specialized training in tactics and flight leadership, according to Barry R. Fetzer, the deputy director of 2nd MAW’s Aviation Training System. Fetzer is also the overall manager of the United States Marine Corps FLSE program.
“Each evaluator must have a reputation and proven abilities that precede their squadron, followed by an endorsement by their Marine aircraft group commanding officer before they can be designated as a 2nd MAW FLSE,” said Fetzer.
The program has enhanced flight leadership standardization, evaluation and accountability throughout Marine Corps aviation, according to Fetzer.
“The FLSE is important to the Marine Corps overall because every Marine and every aircraft is a national asset,” said Fetzer. “We must do everything we can to enhance leadership and reduce the risk to protect the investment the American people have made in their corps of Marines. The evaluators program helps that endeavor.”