By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”
Airmen Leadership School is making tomorrow’s Air Force enlisted leaders today.
ALS is a five-week-long program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. ALS focuses on developing leadership abilities, the profession of arms, and building effective communication.
“This course is designed to wear you down, stress you out and make you believe that you can adapt and overcome anything that comes your way as a supervisor,” said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Fiandt, a 19th Force Support Squadron professional military education instructor.
Senior airmen with at least 48 months, of time in service in the Air Force or those with a line number for staff sergeant are eligible for ALS. The Airmen must also have at least six months retainability from the projected class graduation before being enrolled.
“It’s a nice thing to have to develop and become an NCO,” said Senior Airman Christina Champion, a 19th Operations Squadron flight equipment journeyman.
Airmen often feel anxious about what to expect when entering ALS other than learning the ins and outs of supervision. Fiandt listed a few pieces of advice for incoming Airmen.
“If you come in with an open mind, a good attitude, and time management skills, you will make it out alive,” said Fiandt.
The ALS mission is to prepare senior airmen to be professional, warfighting Airmen, able to supervise and lead Air Force members to support the employment of the air, space and cyberspace power.
With several years in the Air Force Staff Sgt. Fiandt had experienced good and bad supervisors. Those experiences drove her to become a PME instructor and to try and be an example of what a good supervisor looks like.
ALS is the first level of PME that enlisted Airmen complete as they progress through their Air Force careers.
“They definitely set you up for success,” said Champion. “I have slearned things my supervisor didn’t provide me with, and I get to go back and have that information for my troops.”
The highlight of the graduation ceremony is the John Levitow Award ceremony. The John Levitow Award is the highest award presented at ALS; it is consider the pinnacle of success in ALS and enlisted PME by many Airmen. The Levitow Award is presented to the student that demonstrated the most outstanding leadership and scholastic qualities. Selection for the Levitow Award is based on academic performance and assignment of points by peers and instructors.
Every Airmen who graduates is now authorized to wear the NCO Development Ribbon, and perhaps that is rewarding enough, because with it comes the responsibility to lead.
“My favorite part, however, is when I run into the Airmen down the road, and they tell me how they used the skills we taught them,” said Fiandt. “It’s very rewarding.”