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Record size ALS allows Michigan Airmen, others to gain leadership

Senior Airmen Dylan Barriger, Andrew Farrell and Mark Welch listen in during an Airmen Leadership School satellite class at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., May 17, 2017. ALS is a required level of professional military education for an Airman to be eligible for promotion to staff sergeant. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. - Senior Airman Dylan Barriger, Senior Airman Andrew Farrell and Senior Airman Mark Welch with the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, listen in during a satellite Airman Leadership School session at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., May 17, 2014. Airmen must first complete ALS to be eligible for promotion to the rank of staff sergeant. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Heaton/Released)

McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. ??? Students attending the Satellite Airman Leadership School Class 14-4, from the 127th Fighter Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. gathers at the I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, June 16, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. ??? Students attending the Satellite Airman Leadership School Class 14-4, from the 127th Fighter Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. gathers at the I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, June 16, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Twelve Michigan Air National Guard Airmen were preparing today to graduate Airman Leadership School at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center next week, after linking up with 225 other Airmen to strengthen their leadership skills.

The 127th Wing's Airmen were students of the TEC's Satellite ALS, and will be among the largest single graduating ALS class ever in the U.S. Air Force, said TEC officials.

The wing's noncommissioned officers first facilitated the smaller, satellite portion of the school at their home station. It included five consecutive, full weekends of instruction.

"The course puts you in a leadership situation in a small group setting to allow a person to practice leadership skills, without the pressure of doing so in a real-world situation ...," said Senior Airman Timothy Mershow, from the wing's maintenance squadron.

The TEC's Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center instructors taught via the TEC TV broadcast studio. Twenty classrooms from around the nation were linked in too, via a two-way audio and video system.

The students' in-residence ALS portion began earlier this month, at TEC, and included about two weeks of campus classroom instruction as well as physical fitness sessions and other training and tests.

U.S. Air Force Airman Leadership School is a required step for the rank of staff sergeant.

Satellite ALS is offered twice a year, by the Air National Guard, but ALS is also available via a correspondence course as well as through a full, five-week in-residence program.

As a new format in Selfridge's ALS training cycle, its eligible Senior Airmen took the satellite version of the school.

Satellite training allows Air National Guard members to receive live instruction while minimizing disruptions to their civilian work schedules, civilian education and families, they said.

"ALS and all of the professional military education courses are important milestones in an Airman's career," said Chief Master Sgt. Joe Stevens, the wing's human resources adviser and the local superintendent of professional military education.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 National Guard members who fly both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the wing supports Air Force Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Special Operations Command with highly skilled Airmen for domestic and overseas missions, said officials.

"ALS allows an Airman to take the first step on a path to a position of leadership within the wing," said Mershow.

Mershow holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, and he said that satellite ALS built upon a number of topics, similar to what he studied in college.

"This is an application of those ideas, as they apply in a military setting," he said. "It helps to take a number of topics and allows you to apply those to the work environment. It puts faces on topics, instead of just an abstract discussion."

Selfridge's next scheduled satellite ALS is in August, along with a satellite version of the U.S. Air Force Noncommissioned Officer Academy. Both satellite NCO Academy and ALS students will travel for two weeks training at the TEC in December.