An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Air Force, Reserve Actively Promoting Coaching Culture

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Chad Manifold

For years, the Air Force and Air Force Reserve have encouraged mentoring as a way for Airmen to learn from those who came before them. Now, the services are promoting coaching as a complementary way for Citizen Airmen to accomplish the mission.

“Our traditional development model relied heavily on mentoring which is a long-term, big-picture approach to acquiring skill and knowledge,” said Brig. Gen. Harold W. Linnean III, Air Reserve Personnel Center commander. “Consequently, this development time gap threatens our pursuit of a more flexible, multi-capable force for Great Power Competition. Therefore, we must supplement long-term development with coaching, a quicker and more efficient way to learn a skill.”

Recently, the Air Force revealed a new website, https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Coaching/, that supports the development of a coaching culture throughout the service by offering a variety of resources tailored to the needs of Airmen and Guardians.

At the Department of the Air Force’s Coaching site, members can explore how to find a professional coach. Additional resources are available to support the development of the Air Force’s internal coaching culture.
According to the site, coaching is a structured, formalized, goal-oriented process where a certified coach focuses on helping individuals overcome specific challenges, develop new skills and reach desired outcomes. Coaches employ active listening, powerful questioning, and feedback tools and techniques, empowering individuals to find their own solutions to certain challenges and build self-awareness.

“Coaching is a crucial component for our Total Force development ecosystem,” said Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller, Air Force deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services. “It empowers our members to unlock their greatest potential, generate personal growth and better contribute to the service’s mission.”

Reserve Chief Master Sgt. Sam Caballero has served as a coach since 2020, serving Airmen at AFRC headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and throughout the world. “If you are facing challenges and not sure of your next steps, whether in your military, civilian or personal life, get a coach,” Caballero said. “You will not regret how the power of coaching can help determine your next steps.”

The chief recently offered a two-hour conflict resolution session titled “Conflict: Resolving the Inevitable” to six senior noncommissioned officers assigned to the 413th Force Support Flight. He offered insight into how individuals may respond differently to conflicts, and he engaged the group through questions and answers.

Capt. Jamillah Gonzalez, the flight commander at the time, praised him for “his ability to establish a genuine connection and a collaborative dialog with the senior NCOs to meet them where they were in their knowledge of conflict resolution technique application.

After graduating from the Air Force’s inaugural 15-week Coaching Culture Facilitator’s course and receiving International Coach Federation accreditation, Reserve Maj. Megumi Voight, a public affairs individual mobilization augmentee assigned to the U.S. Space Force, now applies the skills she learned to support her unit.

By conducting more than 125 coaching hours, Voight has helped her Airmen to further their own personal and professional journeys – completing master’s degrees, applying for and getting job promotions, and finding work-life harmony amidst the juggle that many Citizen Airmen face.

Katharine Kelley, deputy chief of space operations for human capital, expanded on coaching culture’s benefit to the Air Force. “Coaching is an investment that will pay dividends for our people,” she said. “It challenges members to self-reflect on their strengths and grow in new ways personally and professionally.”

According to Crystal Moore, director of Air Force Force Development, coaching and mentoring have key differences that each contribute to individual growth.

“It’s essential to understand the difference between coaching and mentoring to maximize the capabilities of both methodologies,” Moore said. “Mentoring is a relationship-based approach that centers on sharing knowledge, experience and advice while helping mentees achieve their career goals. Mentoring relationships may be longer-term and address a broad range of personal and professional growth areas. A coach encourages individuals to develop their own approaches to a challenge through thoughtful questioning and are shorter-term in nature.”

Moore summarized the techniques’ divergence by illustrating a difference in the guide’s role. “Essentially, a mentor talks to you with advice; a coach empowers you,” she said.

Leadership recognizes that becoming a coach requires dedication, training and a genuine desire to help others grow. Coaches enhance the force’s effectiveness and adaptability by assisting others to realize their potential.

“Through coaching, the services can foster a culture of continuous growth, ensuring our members are ready to face any challenges and uphold our air and space superiority,” Miller said.

For questions about the Air Force coaching program, visit the coaching page at https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Coaching/, or email af.a1di.coaching@us.af.mil. If you are a coach and would like to discuss joining the DAF Coaching Cadre, please reach out to af.a1di.coaching@us.af.mil.