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Satellite ALS allows Airmen to gain, practice leadership skills

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
A dozen Michigan Airmen are linking up with Airmen from bases around the country to strengthen their knowledge of key military skills.

The 127th Wing Airmen are students in a satellite course of the Airman Leadership School.

"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 where a mistake can lead to a problem on the aircraft," said Senior Airman Timothy Mershow, a member of the Fuel System Maintenance Shop in the 127th Maintenance Squadron and a student in the class.

The class is facilitated locally at Selfridge Air National Guard Base by various noncommissioned officers from around the 127th Wing. During the instruction period, the class' lead instructors are located at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee. Several classrooms from around the country are linked to the instructors via a two-way video system.

In a new format for the current ALS cycle at Selfridge, the student Airmen - all Senior Airmen - are taking the satellite portion of the class for a full day on five consecutive Saturdays and Sundays. The final two weeks of the course are held at McGhee Tyson. The satellite format allows the Citizen-Airmen of the Air National Guard to receive live instruction while minimizing the disruption to their civilian work schedules.

"ALS and all of the professional military education courses are important milestones in an Airman's career," said Chief Master Sgt. Joe Stevens, 127th Wing Human Resources Advisor and the local superintendent of PME programs at Selfridge. "ALS allows an Airman to take the first step on a path to a position of leadership within the Wing."

Mershow, who holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, said the ALS course builds upon a number of topics he studied in his civilian education.

"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."

The satellite ALS course is generally offered twice a year. ALS, which can also be accomplished via correspondence course or through an in-residence program at McGhee Tyson, is a required step for promotion to staff sergeant. The next satellite ALS program will be offered at Selfridge beginning in August and will again follow the format of having classes on the weekends. A satellite version of the NCO Academy course, which is required for promotion to master sergeant, will be offered beginning in August. The NCO Academy will meet on Tuesdays and Thursday nights for six weeks. Both the NCO Academy and the ALS course will meet for two weeks at McGhee Tyson in early December.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.