As part of an ongoing series this March, the Modern Military Training editorial team is honoring women who are making history. From fighter pilots to robotics engineers, to astronauts, to military leaders that are changing the face of training, there are so many exceptional women making their mark in the government, military, and STEM-related fields, where diversity is often underrepresented.
In this video, we talked to Alicia “Ladle” Datzman, former B-1 Instructor Pilot and currently Senior Manager, Customer Requirements, Live and Blended Training for Collins Aerospace. She told us that her career path, “looks a lot like an old ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.” While her path took her from a kindergarten teacher, to USAF combat pilot, USAF Weapons School graduate and eventually pilot instructor, there was always something in common. She followed her mother’s advice to always look for a career where she was passionate about what she was doing and where she felt like she needed to be there. She was passionate about helping others unleash their own potential.
There is so much in Datzman’s career to be proud of as she reflects on it.
She was one of eight crew members selected from her year group for USAF Weapons School, where she had the opportunity to fly the B-1 bomber in the most demanding situations, without knowing if she would make it through the course.
It was an honor, she told us,“to be trusted with the time and attention of those instructors. It was an amazing opportunity.”
As rewarding as this experience was, Datzman said that “being the on-call help for the troops on the ground in Afghanistan and ready to help whoever needed it on the ground” takes the cake. Datzman remembers that her last combat flight was very demanding and required that every member of the four-person crew work at their maximum cognitive capacity. They had to make the best use of the technology they had to protect the people on the ground, getting the troops safely back home.
It is these types of experiences across the multidomain battlespace that drive Datzman to continue to innovate and deliver the training requirements needed to enable the warfighter. “It’s a beautiful convergence of technology and humanity that we are looking at,” she told us of her current role. “We are not just looking at machines. We are looking at the whole person and how technologies like AI and machine learning fit in, on, or off the loop,” she said. Datzman knows first-hand that effective training is so critical to prepare warfighters and maximize both human performance and technology to share information across domains and make decisions faster than the adversary. That is what drives her passion today.
“Just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Datzman advised a younger generation of leaders looking to pursue a STEM-related career in government, military or any other industry. “Keep trying, keep asking, keep knocking on doors,” she concluded.
Watch the full video with Datzman below: