ALS trains tomorrow's leaders today

  • Published
  • By Dylan Laurie
  • Contract writer
Attention anyone who hopes to make it into the ranks of the non-commissioned officer corps. There is something out there awaiting all hopefuls; uncaring of age, sex, race or squadron. It demands sacrifice and is unyielding in its purpose.

It's Airman Leadership School.

The mission of ALS is to ensure senior airmen promoted to staff sergeants have supervisory and leadership training, according to Master Sgt. David McLane, 16th Mission Support Squadron Airman Leadership School Flight chief.

"We're preparing these folks to be supervisors, which they'll need when they become NCOs," said Sergeant McLane. "This training creates a foundation of how to manage people."

The training includes classroom discussion, performance and objective evaluations, drill, uniform inspections, and other class activities, such as physical training and formal retreat. 

ALS students are supposed to take the training they receive in the five and one-half weeks of curriculum back out into the field, where, through additional mentoring from their bosses, they'll gain the experience they need to become good supervisors.

The lesson Airmen have in time management, for example, gives them the tools and teaches them theory about what they need to do to organize their tasks, said Sergeant McLane.

The June 23 graduating class here had 42 students. The average class size is 48; three flights of 16 students per instructor. There are five instructors and one client systems administrator at ALS.

"The instructor staff makes ALS here unique because most of them are Air Force Special Operations Command bred, and they understand the AFSOC mission; so they're able to relate to the students quite a bit," said Sergeant McLane.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Huckaby, ALS instructor, said he uses his experience in the field to communicate the ALS message to the students.
"A lot of the concepts that we teach here, the students look at as abstract," Sergeant Huckaby said.

"Because I've spent a lot of time deployed, I try to take my experience and relate it to the curriculum as to how group dynamics apply within a deployed environment with people you've never met before – especially with special operations Airmen…If you can relate how they can use it in the field, they are more apt to buy into the concept."

The curriculum is divided into three major categories at ALS: profession of arms, leadership and communication skills. They are taught more than 192 hours during 24 academic days.

There are 70 Airman leadership schools Air Force wide under the supervision of Air University, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The curriculum is designed there and updated about once a year. 

ALS students earn nine college credit hours upon completion of the course.
Distinguished graduate honors are given to the top 10 percent of each class.

It's based on total cumulative score on all objective and performance evaluations, and peer and staff evaluations.

The highest award presented by ALS is the John L. Levitow Award. It's presented to the student who attains the highest cumulative score on all evaluations, demonstrates leadership, teamwork, military bearing and dedication to the spirit and mission of ALS and the NCO corps.

"I want everyone to know how much I appreciate them," said Senior Airman Colin Fleck, 4th Special Operations Squadron, on winning the John L. Levitow Award during the ALS graduation June 23 at the Emerald Coast Conference Center.

"I don't feel like I did anything that was above or beyond; it was mostly teamwork," said Airman Fleck.