Ramstein FLEXes it forward

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Madelyn Keech
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When many people hear about the Facility and Leadership Excellence team at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, they may assume it is just a normal base clean-up group.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman James Frick, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron FLEX program lead, took over the position as the team lead in February, 2021. Frick said he felt called to make drastic changes to the FLEX program, which used to be the Facility Excellence Team.

While Airmen who are selected for FLEX do conduct base beautification, much of the time spent in FLEX is attending classes focusing on mentoring sessions from distinguished guests, on-base immersions and leadership classes.
Classes go over goal-setting, effective communication techniques, teamwork and other topics teaching participants long-lasting skills. The goal is to invest in the Airmen, who are usually new to the Air Force.

“We are providing a platform for them to succeed and ask questions to learn various skills,” Frick said. “Being able to pay it forward and give leadership techniques to them as well as getting feedback from people is what we’re contributing to. We place a high priority on how we are developing Airmen, how we are developing people and how we are developing them to be a leader.”

Frick said part of teaching leadership skills to Airmen is showing it to them in person in units around Ramstein such as the air traffic control tower, to gain a better understanding of how these leadership lessons are practiced in the operational Air Force.

Airman 1st Class Tanya Howett, 86th Communications Squadron network infrastructure technician, said she didn’t feel confident in her ability to lead before going through the FLEX program. However, she was pushed to go out of her comfort zone.

“It really showed me that if you try something, you can succeed,” Howett said.

She said one of the things she loved most about the class was being able to meet Airmen from different career fields and continuing personal and professional relationships with them outside of FLEX.

“The main thing that I took away from FLEX is being able to see the whole picture within the puzzle,” Howett said. “When you are in your workspace, you just see your job, but when you come here you get to meet people that you might not have met.”

Frick said one of the most inspiring things he sees is Airmen thriving as they go through the two-week long class and take their skills to the operational Air Force. One of the goals Frick has for the program is for it to be implemented at other bases.

“New Airmen are important,” he said. “If we do not take this time to invest in them now, we cannot improve and innovate our force as a whole. We try to do as much as we can to facilitate, organize and support that growth.”