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A future Department of Defense leader is hoisted out of water at the Aviation Survival Training Center at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Feb 9. Civilian and military participants of the Executive Leadership Development Program receive training similar to the training aircrew receive.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Justis T. Beauregard

Future leaders ‘get wet’ at MCAS Miramar

5 Feb 2009 | Lance Cpl. Justis T. Beauregard

More than 50 Department of Defense future executive policy makers visited the Aviation Survival Training Center here, Feb 9.

Participants of the Executive Leadership Development Program trained and learned from Marines and sailors aboard installations throughout San Diego.

The ten-week ELDP course takes DoD civilian employees, Government Service employees 12 through 14, and commissioned officers O-4 and O-5, around the world to learn about and train with the United States Armed Forces and their allies. 

The program members spent the day going through a condensed version of the training aircrew receive, explained Kimberly Kessler, the program’s director. 

“The experience here at Miramar is great,” said Michael K. Smith, member of the ELDP and the deputy director of operations and training at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “It’s a great opportunity to get this type of hands-on experience.” 

Part of the training required them to navigate their way underwater in a flight suit and helmet to open a door, while simulating an escape from a submerged aircraft.   

Afterward, participants climbed aboard a raft and were hoisted out of the water simulating a water rescue.

“This program has given me a much greater perspective of other armed services and DoD agencies” said Air Force Maj. Michele L. Pryor, a KC-135 pilot with the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. “The training is very realistic.” 

Along with their underwater training, participants received a tour of the ASTC facilities and landed a parachute in a virtual reality exercise. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to experience what military members go through,” said Ariane L. Whittemore, the program executive officer for Executive Lifestyle Management and the chief of staff for the Strategic Planning and Policy Directorate, U.S. Pacific Command. “These executive leaders will have first-hand experiences to make good decisions that can make service members safer.”

The training ensures civilians can meet the mission and operational needs of the DoD, explained Whittemore. 

“The most important thing they will take from MCRD San Diego is the core value training that the Marines receive,” said Kessler. 

Participants also spent a night in a squad bay at Weapons and Field Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton.

They lived the day like Marine recruits, hiking through the hills and going to the shooting range, added Kessler.

Along with the Marine Corps bases in California, the program visits Marine bases worldwide, explained Kessler.