JBLM soldier completes ALS

By Senior Airman Divine Cox, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs on February 18, 2016

Airman Leadership School serves as an enlisted Air Force member's first professional military education course. Not only has the McChord ALS Julius A. Kolb developed leadership abilities in airmen, but also has recently developed the skills of members in other branches of the service.

Spc. Andrew Affonso, Henry H. Lind NCO Academy, information technology specialist, became the first Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army soldier to graduate the Julius A. Kolb ALS, Feb. 11, during a ceremony at the McChord Club.

The ALS program is a six-week course of primarily guided discussion classroom methodology, experimental activities, and exercises and case studies. It also features uniform inspection, physical training and drill.

"I had just finished the Basic Leaders Course on Lewis, when my leadership asked me if I wanted to attend the McChord ALS," said Affonso. "I didn't even know that there was an option to attend another branch's leadership school, so I jumped on the opportunity to go."

Affonso, the first JBLM soldier to get the opportunity to attend ALS here, learned leadership skills in an Air Force curriculum to meet his education requirement to become an NCO. Most soldiers attend an Army NCO Academy prior to becoming an NCO.

"This was a great experience for me," said Affonso. "I learned a lot about the Air Force culture and how the Air Force operates as a whole."

ALS covers combat leadership, military professionalism, airmen supervision, verbal and written communication, and group dynamics. A majority of the instruction focuses around various Air Force rules and regulations.

One of the biggest challenges for the ALS McChord instructors was figuring out how to deliver an Air Force-based curriculum to another service branch.

"This wasn't my first time teaching a different branch of service," said Staff Sgt. Jessica Raab, JBLM ALS instructor. "But it was a challenge for me because I had to remove all the Air Force acronyms because he didnt know them, and retrain and change the way I teach to be more effective for him."

One benefit most students can agree on was the networking that took place during ALS.

"Not only did I learn a lot, but I met a lot of cool people," said Affonso. "I absolutely would recommend other soldiers to (attend) ALS if they get the opportunity. Not many of us can say we attended ALS."

JBLM ALS plans to continue adding more members of other branches into the course.

"The next class we have, there will be some Navy sailors attending," said Raab. "We will continue to integrate our sister services into our school because I believe it is a really good experience to see the different perspective of leadership the other services bring, especially since we teach on perspective."