Bridging the GADP: DEL 3 provides servicemembers with professional development opportunities

  • Published
  • By Emily Peacock

Space Delta 3 – Space Electromagnetic Warfare has introduced a new peer-to-peer mentorship initiative called the Guardian and Airmen Development Program which aims to deliver professional development opportunities for its servicemembers.

Initially adopted from Space Delta 2 – Space Domain Awareness and Space Battle Management’s pilot program, GADP provides systematic and progressive training opportunities to meet the developmental needs of the Delta’s Guardians and Airmen.

“The intent is to give our NCOs the tools to develop as leaders and supervisors, empowering them to make informed decisions while also providing them with a critical support system,” said U.S. Space Force Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen Nieuwenhuis, senior enlisted leader for 5th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron. “When NCOs feel supported, both with the knowledge to succeed and with the encouragement of their leadership, I truly believe they’re able to overcome any obstacle.”

In addition to serving as 5th EWS’s SEL, Nieuwenhuis also sits on the NCO counsel that oversees the program’s quarterly curriculum.

“I work with the other squadron SELs, to include the Air Force Reserve units who share our SEW mission,” said Nieuwhenhuis. “We assign the focus for the quarterly development, then it’s on the squadron’s members to decide how they want to approach the subject.”

Nieuwhenhuis believes the key to GADP comes from the exchange of experiences between senior and juniors Guardians and Airmen NCOs.

“The feedback we’ve gotten shows us that junior NCOs want to learn from senior NCOs about navigating through the ranks of the military,” said Nieuwenhuis. “Getting those lessons and experiences directly from the source helps guide and develop the next generation of Airmen and Guardians.”

In addition to the quarterly development topics, which have ranged from progressive discipline to breaking down the force’s updated Enlisted Performance Brief standards, squadron members practice providing and responding to feedback while also developing constructive techniques to address difficult or uncomfortable conversations.

“As a senior leader, you’re expected to address inefficiencies in the squadron and navigate those difficult conversations,” said Chief Master Sgt. Alex Birkle, SEL for DEL 3. “Practicing how to provide that feedback in a way where servicemembers can learn from their mistakes has the potential to completely change a unit’s trajectory.”  

For Birkle, GADP’s potential impact stretches far beyond Peterson SFB’s gates.

“When our Guardians and Airmen deploy, they’re likely to fill leadership roles,” said Birkle. “Detachment commander, SEL, crew chief – they need to be able to take on these roles and adapt in a dynamic environment.”

Birkle, who serves as the program coordinator for DEL 3, sees the benefit of prioritizing servicemembers’ career progression through peer-to-peer mentorship.

“I think servicemembers have a lot to gain from participating in GADP,” said Birkle. “When we invest time and energy into the development of our Guardians and Airmen, we create an environment where people are proud of their work. And that makes all the difference.”

DEL 3 trains and presents operational combat-ready space electromagnetic warfare forces in support of assigned missions. DEL 3 is headquartered at Peterson SFB, Colorado.