High-tech satellite training prepares Airmen for NCO ranks
By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson, 120th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published June 12, 2013
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Eleven Airmen assigned to the 120th Fighter Wing and 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard are receiving professional military education at their 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, Tenn.
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.
ALS 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 MTANG non-commissioned officers have attended class at McGhee Tyson and are certified to assist with the instruction.
The satellite instruction is one of three methods Airmen can use to satisfy the course required for promotion eligibility. 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 FW classroom and then attend a 2 1/2 week in-residence session taught at McGhee Tyson.
Master Sgt. Dennis Dadej, 219th RHS unit training manager and ALS facilitator, said the satellite version provides the students with the advantages of a classroom environment.
"It's a very rewarding experience," Dadej said. "The Career Development Course is packed with a lot of information, which is good, but you don't get the social skills, the interaction with your peers or the negotiating skills. Those experiences you just can't get by CDCs."
This is the first time 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," said Senior Airman Mike Beaver. "It's a learning experience for everyone."
"I think I'll have a better understanding of the material," said Senior Airman Michael Bates. "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 and I'll bring a lot out of it."
120th FW 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," Franklin said. "And this is a great way to do it without having to be gone from your family for six weeks."
Students who successfully complete the entire satellite ALS course will receive in-residence credit from the United States Air Force.