A look inside Airman leadership school

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Magen M. Reeves
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The Malmstrom Airman Leadership School focuses on developing future Air Force supervisors.

ALS instructors accomplish this goal by administering Air Force curriculum as well as fostering camaraderie and wingmanship among the students over the course of six weeks.

Students eligible to attend ALS vary from base to base depending on space availability and how many Airmen are due to sew on staff sergeant and need to complete the course in a timely manner, but typically senior airmen with three years time-in-service can attend.

“An average day at ALS for me typically starts at 6:45 a.m.,” said Senior Airman Norberto Gonzalez, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight firefighter and ALS student. “At 7 a.m. we put up the American flag and render proper customs and courtesies. After that, we’ll take a few minutes to prep for the day, instructors will pick up homework and then we go right into the lesson.”

Students are broken up into two different flights so instructors can interact with students more effectively during lessons.

Lessons at ALS consist of a multitude of subjects including how to write award packages effectively and commanding a flight of Airmen in marching movements.

“Learning (how to command a flight) is important not just because it’s Air Force tradition, but it teaches what leadership and followership traits you need,” said Gonzalez. “Performing drills instills discipline needed to function properly in the military.”

Developing leadership and supervisory skills as well as learning how to communicate are also a part of the ALS curriculum.

“Our lessons usually involve guided discussions,” said Gonzalez. “We are given scenarios that pertain to things that might affect us as leaders. We ask questions and the instructors are very involved. It’s a very different learning experience.”

Senior Airman Gerald Gavin, 341st CES operations engineering Airman and ALS student, said the guided discussions were his favorite part of his training.

“One guided discussion was on dress and appearance, specifically the new tattoo policy and how it is changing with the cultural norms of society,” said Gavin. “There was a lot of good back and forth in the class’ discussion. I like getting a broader perspective from my peers, which allows me to be able to take off the blinders and look at an issue objectively.”

Gonzalez and Gavin said that even though they could not speak for all of their fellow students, they both felt their ALS experience was a positive one.

However, Gonzalez encountered challenges along the way to graduation that his instructor helped coach him successfully through.

“The biggest challenge I had to overcome was time management,” said Gonzalez. “Managing time as a leader is incredibly important. My instructor talked me through it and helped me overcome that challenge.”

Gavin said he also encountered challenges in the course.

“My biggest challenge to overcome was public speaking,” said Gavin. “The only way to get better at public speaking is to do it more. As a supervisor or a NCO you’re not going to be able to avoid public speaking so it was important for me to step out of my comfort zone. My instructor gave me advice on what to do and how to make public speaking easier for me to handle.”

Students learn necessary skills from ALS instructors and are able to gain a better understanding of concepts when students are told a story or example that is relatable.

“The instructors here at ALS helped fulfill my potential as a leader,” said Gonzalez. “They taught me to slow down and that I can approach each and every person as an individual.”

Gonzalez said the ALS instructors taught him that to build trust between leader and subordinate to be personable and treat people with respect.

Gonzalez and Gavin said that while the course has left them feeling prepared to be Air Force leaders and supervisors, the most valuable aspect of the course is their friendships they made along the way.

“The friendships I made here are the best part,” said Gonzalez. “Writing bullets and award packages can be perfected later on down the road but it’s the networking and the concepts you learn that are the meat and potatoes of the experience.”