News: Alaska trooper gains, gives at Air Force NCO academy
Story by Master Sgt. Michael Smith
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tech. Sgt. Brian Zeisel with the Alaska Air National Guard is modest about the recognition he gets from leading his Alaska State Trooper K9, “Argo,” through some dangerous law enforcement dispatches.
As a full time State Trooper with more than 10 years’ service, thousands see Zeisel’s patrols in Fairbanks, Alaska, on cable TV.
That’s because he is on the television show, “Alaska State Troopers,” with the National Geographic Channel. He appeared in at least four episodes since 2009.
Before heading out on his next patrol, Zeisel decided to attend Air Force Noncommissioned Officer Academy here through the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center. He graduated from the Academy today, April 4, with the Commandant’s Award and as a Distinguished Graduate.
“I benefit from both of my experiences,” said Zeisel. “I use a lot of my Trooper experience with the Guard, and vice versa. They really complement each other.”
Zeisel serves part time as a citizen-Airman for the 168th Security Forces Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard at Eielson Air Force Base. He has more than 22 years’ of combined service in the active duty Army and the Air National Guard.
Completing the Academy is a requirement for his promotion to Master Sergeant in the Air Force, and Zeisel said he hopes to make that leadership rank soon. First he had to share his experiences with his classmates.
“When he said he worked as a Trooper in Alaska during our classroom introductions, I asked jokingly, ‘are you on the show?’ and he said, ‘yes, yes I am,’” said Tech Sgt. Drew Carson, flight instructor.
It was a funny situation, but Carson said National Guard students often provide serious affirmation of the communication and leadership skills discussed during the six-week Academy when sharing their stories.
“One reason that I love instructing so much here is hearing the different experiences Guard members bring to class,” said Carson. “I’m active duty, so I love to hear Guard students’ different expertise and viewpoints in our guided discussions.”
“I’m actually on the show because of my dog,” replied Zeisel, giving credit to his six-year-old shepherd-mix partner.
Zeisel said he wanted to attend the Academy to understand the Air Force better and considering he initially served in the Army and went to Army basic training. He added that he likes the networking that comes from in-resident training.
“I am certainly going to use the experience here, not just back at Eielson, but in my job as a Trooper,” said Zeisel.
When asked what lesson he liked best, Zeisel said “the four lenses,” which clarifies personality traits and their effect on communication and understanding.
“I have to talk to people in my role as a Trooper and as an Air Force Flight Leader,” said Zeisel. “I want to know how to communicate better and recognize things using these concepts taught in class, like the Four Lenses, which teaches us how to understand where people are coming from and how to relate to them.”
Carson agreed, adding that Academy students experience a course packed with many more similar and valuable communication tools.
“He shows that these are not just lesson principles we teach for the Air Force here, they are also life lessons that we learn from each other,” said Carson. “In Sergeant Zeisel’s case, we jokingly say he is ‘Netflixable.’”