GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Eleven airmen assigned to the 120th Fighter Wing and 219th RED HORSE Squadron are receiving their professional military education at home station through the use of satellite technology.
The airmen are enrolled in the Satellite Airman Leadership School taught from a television studio located nearly 2,000 miles away at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee.
Ten sites nationwide are participating in the training, which uses one-way video and two-way audio to connect the students with their instructors with a near real-time capability.
Airman Leadership School is designed for airmen to develop valuable leadership and communication skills and to prepare them for advancement in their careers.
Two on-camera certified instructors lead the class through practical exercises and assign homework. The students demonstrate their new knowledge in team assignments and through class discussions. Four Montana Air National Guard non-commissioned officers have attended class at McGhee Tyson and are certified to assist with the instruction at home station.
The satellite instruction is one of three methods airmen can use to satisfy the course required for promotion. Students can also opt to take a five week in-residence course taught at McGhee Tyson or they can take the entire course in a correspondence version.
Airmen enrolled in the satellite version will spend five weekends in a 120th Fighter Wing classroom and then attend a two-and-a-half week in-residence session taught at McGhee Tyson.
Master Sgt. Dennis Dadej is the 219th RED HORSE Squadron Unit training manager and serves as a local ALS facilitator. He says the satellite version provides the students with the opportunity to gain the advantages of a classroom environment and avoid having to take the difficult ALS correspondence course.
“It’s a very rewarding experience. You just miss so much by the CDC [Career Development Course]. The CDC is packed with a lot of information, which is good, but you don’t get the social skills, the interaction with your peers, the negotiating skills. Those experiences you just can’t get by CDCs,” said Dadej.
This is the first time that ALS has been offered in a satellite version to members of the MTANG and students have enjoyed being able to participate in the initial program.
“I think it’s cool to be one of the first ones to go through it. I guess it’s a learning experience for everyone, but it’s been fun so far,” said Senior Airman Mike Beaver.
“I think I’ll have a better understanding of the material, actually. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad I did this course, aside from just doing the CDC booklets. I’ll be able to understand the material a little better, that’s my hope and I’ll bring a lot out of it,” said Senior Airman Michael Bates.
The 120th Fighter Wing Force Development superintendent and local ALS facilitator, Senior Master Sgt. Tiffany Franklin, predicts that the satellite program will become a more important method of delivering education to airmen in the future. The program is not only cost effective for the Air Force, but it is also convenient for the students to attend at their local base.
“I think it’s always most important and best for the airman to attend in-residence. And this is a great way to do it without having to be gone from your family for six weeks,” Franklin said.
Students who successfully complete the entire satellite ALS course will receive in-residence credit from the United States Air Force.