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James Hypes about working with AFG and the Dutch military

James Hypes joined the AFG team recently as senior trainer for the Basic Leader Course. We interviewed him about working with AFG, his experience with the collaboration between the Dutch military and AFG, and interesting differences between America and The Netherlands regarding military education.

November 2019


USMC senior leader James Hypes about working with AFG and the Dutch Military

“Take care of your guys, and they will take care of you.” James Hypes went on many missions, and this is his most important lesson learned when we ask him about his insights on military leadership. This quote illustrates the experiences of Hypes with the Basic Leader Course at AFG. Having lots of personal contact with the students and focussing on their specific needs and development, that is what matters most, according to Hypes. With personal attention and focus, good leaders are created. Leaders that value personal growth. Such leaders will create a healthy environment for soldiers within the military, ensuring a safe society. 

Hypes works as Senior Trainer at the Basic Leader Course of AFG. We interviewed him during the course, asking him about his experiences working with AFG, and the cooperation on military education by The Netherlands and USA. We are also curious about any differences in military education between the two countries.


James Hypes about AFG: “amazing company with excellent staff selection”

“I was accepted as the new guy straight away, very refreshing.”.  That’s how Hypes experienced his introduction at AFG. Hypes was introduced to AFG by two American colleagues. AFG is a well-known player in the military context in USA. What does Hypes think of AFG?  “An amazing company, just the professionalism, so much detail in staff selection, finding the right mix with a passion for leadership.”.

Why did Hypes join AFG as a trainer? “I am very passionate about young soldiers and marines. Having that one-on-one with them is really valuable. When you’re so high in rank, you might actually forget about them. That’s why I really enjoy working with AFG.”.

“I was accepted as the new guy straight away.”

Dutch directness as advantage in leadership course, according to Hypes 

When we ask Hypes about any particularities that he noticed during the BLC training, he mentions the directness of our Dutch students. This surprised him, as well as their openness. He concludes that these both have a positive effect on education: there is no beating around the bush, you know what you get and where you stand. That makes it easier to achieve shared goals.

Hypes is impressed by the Dutch students. Although education in the English language is sometimes quite challenging, the Dutch soldiers do not hesitate to step out of their comfort zone. They work really hard on all the leadership exercises, and they clearly and quickly state what they want their soldiers to do. Practicing the English language is important because many military missions are conducted in an international environment where English is the main language.

Military education in USA vs The Netherlands: smaller classes, more interaction 

The big difference between Dutch and American courses is the size of the classes (number of students in one class) and the degree of interaction. AFG’s classes are much smaller, providing more room for personal attention, Hypes says. The lessons are also very interactive, while classes in America are more of the broadcasting-type. During AFG training, students are challenged to go out of their comfort zone and they get a good idea of ​​the military reality through practicing different scenarios.

In America, there are similar collaborations between private and government education for military personnel. The biggest difference is the greater presence of civilian instructors. Hypes believes that this is a good development. It stimulates creative thinking, and this is what is needed to fill the deficits. Both USA and The Netherlands face staff shortages, and Hypes believes that AFG’s programs can fulfil that gap. Hypes would like to see AFG more often in America.

Cooperation between USA and The Netherlands reflects real life: NATO cooperation 

Although there are similar military educational organizations in America, none has the same NATO-feel which AFG has. The cooperation between the two countries is unique in this, that’s what students share with Hypes. This cooperation is very important, Hypes emphasizes, because soldiers must understand and experience how NATO cooperation takes place in practice.

“Always refine your plan”, an important leadership insight from Hypes

To conclude, we ask Hypes which of his earned awards means the most to him. As a true leader, Hypes refers to his team: “All my awards are not really mine, I just wear it for the form. It’s all a team effort with the guys. I remember Iraq: we were in a big fire fight and were rewarded afterwards. Looking back on that; yes, we survived, but we did not do everything right. As I wear the award I remember: you may win, but you always need to refine your plan and stay sharp. ”

“You always need to refine your plan and stay sharp.”

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