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Lankford Center brings ALS to Indiana

Tech. Sgt. Jenny Sanchez, an enlisted professional military education facilitator, takes a close look at the uniform of an Airman July 12, 2013 during an open ranks inspection at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind. Grissom is hosting an Airman Leadership School to help junior enlisted members prepare for progression to the noncommissioned officer ranks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carl Berry)

Tech. Sgt. Jenny Sanchez, an enlisted professional military education instructor, takes a close look at the uniform of an Airman July 12, 2013 during an open ranks inspection at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind. Grissom is hosting an Airman Leadership School to help junior enlisted members prepare for progression to the noncommissioned officer ranks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carl Berry)

Senior Airman Brad Wemmer, 434th Force Support Squadron services apprentice, speaks for his group during an Airman Leadership School presentation. Grissom began hosting the class July 8, 2013 to help prepare junior enlistred members become noncomissioned officers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carl Berry)

Senior Airman Brad Wemmer, 434th Force Support Squadron services apprentice, speaks for his group during an Airman Leadership School presentation. Grissom began hosting the class July 8, 2013 to help prepare junior enlistred members become noncomissioned officers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carl Berry)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Airman Leadership School is considered a milestone for most enlisted Air Force members as it serves as a preparatory transition from airmen to noncommissioned officer ranks.

Students from several bases and instructors from the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn., descended upon Grissom ARB, July 8, as the base hosted a class to help facilitate that transition.

Because the in-residence program is five weeks long, traditionally reservists and Guard members gravitate toward the correspondence option for the course.

Hosting the class on base and drawing from other bases afforded those with the ability to get the training in the classroom environment.

"This is the first time the enlisted professional military education center has sent instructors to facilitate a class where 100 percent of the students are traditional reservists and guardsmen," said Tech. Sgt. Debra Wilson-Strong, 434th Air Refueling Wing education superintendent. "We requested that Air Force Reserve Command provide the course to help Grissom Airmen better prepare for the ALS test."

Reserve Command accepted Grissom ARB's request and took it a step further by offering the class to reservists from other bases.

"In order for the class to be held, we needed a minimum of 32 Senior Airmen, so AFRC offered the course to other Reserve and Guard bases," said Wilson-Strong.

Bases that represented in the course are Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Joint Base Andrews, Va., Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, and Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn.

"The five week long course aims to prepare students for a lifelong learning experience in the Air Force and to provide them with the tools to be future leaders," said Master Sgt. Keith Cavanaugh, from Lankford Center.

"The students learn about the various roles they will assume as military supervisors, such as being communicators, managers, team members, military citizens and followers; all areas help with executing the most important role of being leaders and effective first line supervisors."

To get them prepared, instructors used scenarios designed to foster thought and discussion.

"As facilitators we think it's vitally important to get the class to interact and embrace the concepts being taught, so we encourage them to resolve issues as a group," said Tech. Sgt. Jenny Sanchez, Lankford EPME Center instructor. "It allows the students an opportunity to apply some of the principles they've learned and foster that outside relationship with the community."

The instructors said they focused on educating their students in leadership and organizing or influencing a group of people to accomplish a specific goal or mission.

"In ALS, the foundation to every lesson is mission accomplishment," said Tech. Sgt. D.J. Westfall, Lankford EPME instructor. "Airmen will learn much more during the course than necessary to successfully pass the exam given at the end of ALS."

Depending upon the success of the current class, AFRC plans on having a deployed ALS class at least once a year, but it will be at a different location, said Wilson-Strong.