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McEntire's ALS program takes Airmen to new heights

Class photo of Airmen Leadership School students at McEntire Joint National Guard Base May 31, 2014.  The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

Class photo of Airmen Leadership School students at McEntire Joint National Guard Base May 31, 2014. The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Bryant, assigned to the 169th Security Forces Squadron, performs an open-ranks inspection during an Airman Leadership School course at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. May 31, 2014.  The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Swampfox Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Bryant, assigned to the 169th Security Forces Squadron, performs an open-ranks inspection during an Airman Leadership School course at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. May 31, 2014. The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Swampfox Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

Students prepare for class in an Airman Leadership School course at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. May 31, 2014.  The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Swampfox Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

Students prepare for class in an Airman Leadership School course at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. May 31, 2014. The 169th Fighter Wing distance-learning ALS course prepares Swampfox Airmen for excellence in supervisory roles and responsibilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- -- The 169th Fighter Wing Airman Leadership School here offers a distance learning primary education course to Airmen, offering flexibility in professional development and preparation for increased responsibility and promotion opportunities.

The ALS course accelerates qualified Airman through disciplined training that includes open-ranks inspections, local instruction from South Carolina Air National Guard facilitators and Professional Military Education instructors from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Alcoa, Tennessee, via satellite in a two-way, audio and video interactive format.

"ALS is the first step in building the bench of our junior noncommissioned officers at McEntire," said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Sheppard, the 169th Fighter Wing command chief. "We need to be very flexible to afford all our Senior Airmen a chance to complete this important professional development education."

"The intent of the course is to aid traditional Guardsmen that may not be able to get away from their regular jobs, temporary duty assignments or other deployments," said Master Sgt. James Jefferson, resource advisor for the 169th Logistics Readiness Squadron and lead site facilitator for McEntire's PME courses.

McEntire's ALS program consists of eight to 14 Airmen per course through a seven-week, training curriculum that parallels an in-residence course. The first five weeks of the course are here Saturday's and Sunday's from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. The final two weeks are in-residence training at McGhee Tyson ANGB.

"Distance learning still allows residency requirements to be met with two weeks on-site," said Jefferson. "This allows Airmen to maintain a competitive edge and more consideration for future advancement."

Meeting the residency requirement allows Airmen to achieve the United States Air Force Non Commissioned Officer PME graduation ribbon upon successful completion of the course. Correspondence-only courses do not grant this decoration upon graduation.

"The facilitators make sure that we have everything we need," said Senior Airman Derrick Lowman, a knowledge operations specialist assigned to the 169th Maintenance Squadron and ALS student here. "Whether it is class materials or help with my dress-blues jacket, our instructors make sure that we are at our best."

Dress and appearance regulations are enforced and held to a strict standard during classroom hours. Formation inspections prepare ALS students to be disciplined and professional examples to subordinates in their supervisory role.

"When we enforce attention to detail in open-ranks inspections, it ensures Airmen will follow the standards," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Bryant, an ALS facilitator assigned to the 169th Security Forces Squadron. "These standards will then be translated through their roles as a supervisor."

The interactive course presents a great opportunity for students to improve on public speaking skills and U.S. Air Force drill and ceremonies knowledge, commented Jefferson.

"It is fun coming together and meeting people on McEntire that you might not see in a routine work day," said Senior Airman Brandon Edwards, a power production technician assigned to the 169th Civil Engineering Squadron. "And it's convenient to come to class on the weekend."

McEntire's ALS course generates a vital opportunity to Swamp Fox Airmen by allowing more openings for classes to be attended and decreasing the waiting list for classes offered at other installations.

"There are only nine available slots for Air National Guardsmen per year to attend an in-residence school," said Senior Master Sgt. Rhonda Hill, force development superintendent assigned to the 169th Force Support Squadron. "Active-duty personnel have priority when scheduling ALS and courses can fill within minutes of opening."

The McEntire ALS course also has limited availability for enrollment. Airmen must submit an application prior to the end of drill on July 13, 2014.

Qualified Senior Airmen must have a minimum of 42 months of service with a five-level in their Air Force specialty or 48 months of service without their five-level upgrade training completion. A passing physical fitness assessment score must be current and maintained through graduation of the ALS course.

For more information on how to enroll in McEntire's ALS program, contact your unit training manager or Master Sgt. Heather McNeil in the Base Training Office, 803-647-8207.