Airman Leadership School: Building future leaders

Five weeks — 24 academic days — 192 hours.

This is the formula of every Airman’s leadership foundation.

Airman Leadership School prepares senior Airman and recently appointed staff sergeants for their new roles as supervisors.

During these weeks, the Airman will re-learn what it takes to be a true Airman. From Airmanship to the core values to professionalism, reinforcing that Air Force mentality is a focal point, not only for the Airmen attending, but also for the instructors.

Senior Airman Bryan Jackson-White, Airman Leadership School student, hangs the American flag during the playing of reveille at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 2, 2021. Throughout the course, the students have the opportunity to conduct speeches, write research papers, complete examinations and work together as teams. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Miranda A. Loera)

“ALS is the first level of Professional Military Education and sets the foundation for their future role as leaders,” said Master Sgt. Allison Cain, Nellis ALS commandant. ”During this course, we reinforce general Air Force knowledge; teach them about how they fit into the bigger picture and the importance of networking, amongst other topics. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a class go through from start to finish and leave our schoolhouse confident leaders and front line supervisors ready to take on their new role.”

While most Air Force installations are home to an ALS, Nellis boasts the largest ALS in Air Combat Command and was recently awarded the best ALS in ACC for 2020. They are responsible for training approximately 600 Airmen and Guardians per year from Nellis, Creech, the Nevada Test and Training Range, Fort Irwin, Calif., Guard, Reserve and other bases as needed.

Cain says, one of the best parts about ALS is that it presents an opportunity for Airmen to step outside of their comfort zones and build leadership skills as they learn to network with other AFSCs and work together to accomplish the mission.

“The students build connections and learn about each other’s jobs and how their job plays a role in the Air Force mission,” said Cain. “Some of the connections made in ALS will last a lifetime.”

With the task of building future leaders, Staff. Sgt. Jonathan Bautista, ALS instructor, explained his style of teaching varies from class-to-class because it’s based on how students respond to his “signature question.”

On the first day, Bautista always asks his students what they hope to gain from the class and the answers are always different but similar: become a better leader, be a good supervisor, networking skills, learn to inspire and/or motivate, be comfortable public speaking and so on.

The students don’t typically know this but Bautista uses these answers to drive the course curriculum and ensure that every student is able to get the most out of their time in ALS.

“Every class is different, so my approach is always different, but at the same time, I always try to tie everything back into the ALS curriculum,” said Bautista. “I always hope students gain a new perspective and appreciation for the Air Force. I know I personally learn something new from each one of my students, and I hope they learn something from me and my personal experiences as well.”

Throughout the course, the students have the opportunity to conduct speeches, write research papers, complete examinations, perform flag details, uniform inspections and participate in PT together as a team.

“All-in-all, we hope the students can network and create bonds,” said Staff Sgt. Negleatta Davis, ALS instructor. “We are a family. Each and every person is important and even once they graduate, they know that they know that we are here for them.”

Students from the Nellis Airman Leadership School, prepare to perform reveille at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 2, 2021. Airman Leadership School prepares Senior Airman and recently appointed Staff Sergeants for their new roles as supervisors. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Miranda A. Loera)

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