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ALS: creating Air Force leaders

Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) students perform drill movements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2018.

Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) students perform drill movements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2018. Five instructors lead the students through the ALS course, each with the ability to teach seven courses per year with up to 80 students per class; numbers of graduates have reached more than 460 in past years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) converse with an instructor at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2018.

Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) converse with an instructor at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2018. The ALS mission is to prepare senior airmen and staff sergeants to be professional, warfighting Airmen able to supervise and lead Air Force teams to support the employment of air, space and cyberspace power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Abelino Ledesma, Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) instructor, critiques his students practicing drill movements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Abelino Ledesma, Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School (ALS) instructor, critiques his students practicing drill movements at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2018. Customs and courtesies such as drill, reveille and retreat procedures are performed throughout the ALS course to reinforce the military bearing principles associated with the Air Force profession of arms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Before Team Shaw senior airmen and staff sergeants can become supervisors, they must first graduate from the Senior Master Sgt. David B. Reid Airman Leadership School where they learn to become successful leaders.

The ALS mission is to prepare students to be professional, warfighting Airmen who are able to supervise and lead Air Force teams to support the employment of air, space and cyberspace power.

The ALS course is the foundation for all enlisted professional military education built upon at every level of an Airman’s career, said Master Sgt. Clyde Rankins, ALS commandant. ALS enhances the development of Airmen by strengthening their ability to lead, follow and manage while gaining a broader understanding of the military profession.

Five instructors lead the future supervisors through the ALS course, each with the ability to teach seven courses per year with up to 80 students per class; numbers of graduates have reached more than 460 in past years.

Rankins went on to say the ALS instructors educate an extremely diverse group of Airmen and develop their skills, resulting in some of the finest future leaders and supervisors he could ask for.

Senior Airman Kyle Duroff, ALS student, said he was grouped with a wide variety of people from diverse career fields and was able to understand the culture from many parts of the Air Force. Together, they were able to work through the class and course material to achieve the ultimate goal of graduating as a team. He said it was a great experience and he is thankful for the opportunity to further his Air Force career.

The lessons teach students to effectively carry out initial and midterm feedback sessions as well as fill out the Air Force form 1206 bullet writing scenario for recognizing Airmen.

“I believe ALS has expanded my skillset as a noncommissioned officer to better lead my subordinates and peers alike,” said Duroff. “It has opened my eyes to help me see things from both sides, as an Airman and as a leader. It was much different than I thought it was going to be. When I first arrived to ALS I thought it was going to be a ‘re-bluing’ experience, but it turned out to be much different.”

The students are also educated on progressive discipline as it applies to correcting inappropriate behavior that falls below set standards. Customs and courtesies such as drill, reveille and retreat procedures are performed throughout the ALS course to reinforce military bearing principles associated with the Air Force profession of arms.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Focht, ALS student, said he feels like ALS is very important for Airmen and soon-to-be supervisors because it shows them how to lead effectively in the Air Force. With the instructors setting the example, the students meet the “standards” and rise above it so they can be an example for their Airmen once they graduate.

The ALS course is 24 academic days long with different topics covered every day, and each instructor takes on the role of first sergeant, supervisor, mentor and advisor while teaching their students to do the same.

“My staff is going to give it their all,” Rankins said. “I have never seen a group of such selflessly motivated leaders. They don’t do it for recognition. They do it for the Airmen that walk through our front door every day. They are attempting to inspire the change they wish to see in our Air Force, and I am so proud to serve beside them.”

By graduation day, the Airmen are able to supervise effectively by utilizing their freshly-sharpened communication and problem solving tools, enabling the Air Force to continue to dominate globally in air, space and cyberspace.