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NEWS | Oct. 23, 2018

ALS breaks record with graduating class

By 2nd Lt. Samuel Swanson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Airman Leadership School is the first step to becoming an effective leader for many motivated Airmen and its growing popularity was showcased Oct. 18, 2018, when 48 Airmen graduated from Joint Base Charleston, making it the largest ALS class in the base’s history.

ALS is a 24-duty day, 192-hour in-residency training program that serves to give senior Airmen the experience and confidence needed to be effective front-line supervisors. The course exposes Airmen to a variety of leadership challenges and supervisory roles which in-turn helps prepare them for their future beyond the classroom.

“Our mission here is to equip Airmen with the tools to become ethical leaders who generate professionalism in everyone within their sphere of influence,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Hughes, Airman Leadership School commandant. “As soon-to-be supervisors, these Airmen are entrusted with the task of leading others, which requires a foundation built on ethical leadership.”

The class gained 11 additional graduates, bringing the total size to 48 airmen, a 30 percent increase from last year. While the sudden influx of Airmen demanded flexibility among the ALS staff, the overall attitude was positive as many saw the value such a large class brings to the force.

“The importance of this large class is two-fold: first, it bolsters the Air Force's Total Force Initiative by allocating more seats for reservists,” said Hughes. “Second, it minimizes withholds for our staff sergeant selects, thus assuring on-time promotions.”

With the additional students, some expressed concern regarding the effects that large class sizes could have on academic resources and the quality of training.

“Within our respective flights, it doesn’t feel any different than running three flights. However, it’s very noticeable when we are all together,” said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Fiebelkorn, ALS instructor. “My biggest concern would be if some student felt lost in the crowd, or wasn’t getting the individualized attention they deserve.”

The challenges that come with large class sizes require students to be adaptable. 

“This particular class is really easy-going and flexible,” said Fiebelkorn. “Some days can be unpredictable, but this class rolls with it all. They take care of business and seem to have fun doing it.”

Growing class sizes may be cause for concern, but the graduating Airmen have handled it well in the eyes of their instructors. Now, they will return to their respective units and showcase all that they have learned over the past five weeks.

"As a result of ALS I have grown in the aspect that I feel more confident and capable in filling a leadership position," said SSgt Tanisha Stromatt, ALS Delta Flight leader. "Each of us plans to take the leadership principles we have been taught at ALS and use it to develop ourselves and our own troops to shape the Air Force into a stronger, more efficient organization.”