NEWS | May 10, 2012

Sailors receive leadership skills through ALS; become first JB Charleston Navy graduates

By Senior Airman Anthony J. Hyatt Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Airman Leadership School typically serves as an enlisted Air Force member's first professional military education. Recently, it has not only developed leadership abilities in Airmen, but also the skills of members in other branches of the service.

Joint Base Charleston's ALS graduated its first Navy Sailors May 3. Petty Officer 2nd Class Japheth Tillman, Naval Health Clinic Charleston, Petty Officer 2nd Class Crystal Medina, 628th Communications Squadron, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Bradley Nguyen, 628th Security Forces Squadron, completed the five-week course along with 32 Airmen from JB Charleston.

The ALS program consists of 192 hours of primarily guided discussion classroom methodology, experimental activities and exercises and case studies. The course consists of five Air University core areas: Profession of Arms, Warfare Studies, Leadership Studies, International Security Studies and Communication Studies.

"Both the Air Force and Navy gained a greater appreciation of each other's service. All the students were able to see differences between the Air Force and Navy but understood their roles and how they work together," said Master Sgt. Louis Gosseck, JB Charleston ALS commandant. "The lessons taught here at ALS are common key elements that each person will use to improve their supervisory and leadership skills."

Although the Sailors were at ALS to learn about leadership and supervisory roles, they also were able to educate Airmen on the Navy.

"I think having the Navy personnel alongside the Airmen provided a unique opportunity that many people in the Air Force do not see at this level," said Staff Sgt. Patricia Jones, JB Charleston ALS instructor. "The Sailors gave the other students personal insight that neither the books nor I can compare to."

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

"The way we [Air Force members] speak on a daily basis had to be converted into a plain language that can be related to our Navy students," said Tech. Sgt. John Toth, JB Charleston ALS instructor.

"We have a great staff that has the ability to adapt very quickly to situations," said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hutchins, JB Charleston ALS instructor.

At first the Sailors were uncertain about attending ALS, but after a week of class their attitudes changed and it showed.

"Truthfully, I didn't want to attend ALS," said Medina.

Hutchins added, Medina started ALS closed-off, but she finished the course grateful.

Tillman went on to receive one of the Distinguished Graduate Awards presented to the top 10 percent of students with the highest overall average in all graded areas.

"I really had no idea. I was just happy I represented the Navy well and was able to bring something back home," he said.

Toth added, "The fact that the individuals from the Navy can come to Airman Leadership School and excel says a lot about their character."

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

"The best part about ALS was meeting new people and adding more Airmen to my Air Force family," said Medina. "I recommend more Sailors to attend ALS because it is an amazing experience."

"Hopefully the relationships I made throughout ALS will carry into the future," Tillman added. "It's great seeing that although we are from different branches, we have a lot of similarities."

JB Charleston plans to continue adding more members of other branches into the course.

"As long as there is availability, we will continue to integrate the Navy, Coast Guard, or any other branch of service into our ALS [program]," said Gosseck. "Our next class, 12-E, will include three more Navy Sailors and one Coast Guard member."