REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- More than 100 civilians at Team Redstone are taking an initial step in their leadership development.

They filled the Community Activity Center auditorium Thursday for the 2011 Leader Investment for Tomorrow kickoff. This was a combined kickoff for all three programs under LIFT, which will be nine months of training at one day per month.

"We're working together to be better leaders so we can provide for the Soldiers and the civilians," LIFT administrator Jamie Candelaria, a human resource specialist, said. "And building the bench."

The 104 participants include 12 in Advanced LIFT class 5; 48 in LIFT class 10 and 11; and 44 in UPLIFT (Upward Leader Investment for Tomorrow) class 9 and 10.

"We've done a five-year review," Candelaria said. "And in that review we focused on efficiency, having a Soldier focus, and building relationships. That's the reason this is the first time we've done a combined kickoff. We are one team, one fight."

LIFT is sponsored by the Aviation and Missile Command's G-1 (Human Resources). Participants include AMCOM and the Program Executive Offices, the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, NASA, Army Materiel Command, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Garrison.

The Leader Investment for Tomorrow program began in 2005. LIFT 2, now called Advanced LIFT, started in 2006. In 2008, the LIFT program was deployed to Letterkenny Army Depot, Pa., and Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas. UPLIFT was developed in 2009.

AMCOM commander Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers and deputy commander Ronnie Chronister expressed their support for the program during the kickoff.

"We're placing a lot of emphasis -- and the whole Army is -- on the civilian education system," Rogers said.

"Taking the step in this leadership course is the first step of many you need to take," he said.

Phil Petri, a Lean Six Sigma facilitator in the AMCOM Office of Continuous Improvement, is among the LIFT participants. "It's competitive. I did do an application and competed for this," said Petri, who arrived at AMCOM six months ago from Anniston Army Depot and has 24 years of government service.

"I'm new to AMCOM," he said. "And with a depot background, this is a whole different perspective. This is an opportunity for me to better serve AMCOM and also an opportunity for me to grow and better serve my career."