Minot Airman becomes first enlisted person selected for Naval Postgraduate School's Emergence Program

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Luis Gomez
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Charles Dell, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) logistics manager, is pioneering as the first enlisted person selected for the Naval Postgraduate School's Homeland Defense and Security Emergence Program. The Emergence Program, conducted in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a six-month distance learning endeavor that includes two week-long in-person sessions at the postgraduate school.
The program aims to bring together a diverse collection of local, state, and federal government officials to critically think about homeland security, explore emerging trends and initiate change in their organizations. Dell's inclusion in this selective group marked a pivotal moment not just for him, but the broader Air Force community.
 “When I saw the email saying I was selected, it hadn’t quite hit me just how big of a deal this was,” said Dell. “It wasn’t until people started explaining how there were five other people interviewed before me and they didn't make the cut. It made it clear to me how competitive just getting accepted into the program was.”
Dell's eyes gleamed with a mixture of determination and excitement, reflecting on the transformative experience the program provided him. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work with multiple government agencies and that honor was not lost on Dell, who described how helpful the diversity of thought was.
“I have the Secret Service, Coast Guard, emergency management, FEMA, local law enforcement, Homeland Security Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and border patrol all in my class,” said Dell. “It's all people in public safety. I'm the only enlisted person in the course. So, we're all there to help each other. Each job's different, but we all tie into the bigger picture.”
According to Dell, the experience broadened his perspective beyond Air Force personnel and firefighters. That diversity of thought allowed him to start contributing unique insights on nuclear deterrence and Minot AFB’s mission within broader government context.
One of the program's focal points is the change initiative, which tasks participants with identifying and addressing organizational challenges. Each person in the course identifies an area in their workspace that could be seen as a problem. Then, they work to address possible root causes to that problem before developing and implementing a solution.
“This course forces you to start thinking not only about the big picture, but the day-to-day,” said Dell. “I know in every workplace there is something that people do on a daily basis, or know about, that could be potentially damaging. Yet, nobody's doing anything about it because nobody wants to confront it. So that's the whole purpose of this course, to recognize those issues and develop solutions for them.”
With a new outlook on problem solving instilled by the Emergence Program, Dell went about implementing his change initiative at the 5th CES. After giving it some thought, he noticed that his department did not have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the program manager to be able to operate under.
“The rules and responsibilities of the program manager have been a gray area in our department,” said Dell. “So that's what I'm attacking right now. Whether it's guidelines or something to benefit for continuity purposes, I'm going to be working with my leadership on making sure that there's an SOP in place for the next person to operate under.”
While the change initiative is the kind of big picture thinking the program stresses, Dell also made sure to look at the day-to-day processes too, such as transitioning to electronic processes at his department for efficiency.
Taking on this program hasn’t come without adversity. Dell’s toughest challenge in taking on the program was time management. Balancing program demands with Air Force responsibilities and upcoming coursework can be overwhelming.
“It's graduate level coursework,” said Dell. “Not to mention, I have this job, my firefighting responsibilities, I start Airman Leadership School (ALS) this month and then I start emergency medical technicians (EMT) training next month. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate, and I just have to figure out how to deal with it. Discipline is key. Even if your motivation is gone, if you are disciplined you will get it done. With the proper discipline you can attack everything.”
Despite challenges, Dell has persevered as the first enlisted person to participate in this program. His journey serves as an inspiration, embodying the Air Force's commitment to pushing boundaries and driving change. Dell’s acceptance into a selective program and the change initiative he’s implemented exemplifies the spirit of innovation and excellence within the Air Force community.