FORT BLISS, Texas – Soldiers eligible for the Master Leader Course have another opportunity to meet the MLC requirements for promotion by attending the Air Force equivalent professional military education program. The Air Force Senior NCO Academy Advanced Leadership Experience course prepares students for senior enlisted NCOs leadership roles in the joint, combined, and inter-agency operating and strategic environments.
Selection for the AFSNCOA-ALE is determined by the Army Human Resources Command for the active duty component and is based off of the order of merit list for eligible Soldiers in the ranks of master sergeant and sergeant first class. The G-3 Operations for the Army Reserves and National Guard determines candidate selection for their respective components.
The partnership with the AFSNCOA began in 2018 and became official in September 2019 when the former NCO Leadership Center of Excellence commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, signed a memorandum of understanding with the former AFSNCOA commandant, Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Stiles. In total, 24 Soldiers have attended the AFSNCOA-ALE course.
Similar to MLC, the AFSNCOA-ALE has four primary learning objectives: leadership, problem-solving, mission and culture. With the focus on preparing senior NCOs to lead in air and space power in support of national security objectives, the course affords Soldiers an opportunity to collaborate with other service members from all branches of the military.
“Soldiers with [multi-domain] career aspirations can certainly benefit from this broadening assignment,” Trevor Adams, registrar at the NCOLCoE, said. “Upon completion of this course, Soldiers will be given an Army Academic Evaluation Report and an Air University diploma.”
The most recent graduating class of the ALE had five Soldiers in attendance.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Gilleland, a platoon sergeant in Bravo Company, 1-36 Infantry, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, said on his first day in the course – which was offered virtually due to the coronavirus – he immediately noticed a difference between Army and Air Force PME.
“We did introductions and I started hearing the Air Force jargon,” Gilleland said. “At first I was starting to rethink this whole thing, but my small group would stop and explain the terms when I had questions, and I was able to give them Army perspective on things. We also called each other by our first names.”
Gilleland added that although the course is structured around the air, space and cyber domains, a bulk of the curriculum, particularly strategic thinking and leading troops, is also applicable to service members in the ground and sea domains.
While deciphering Air Force terminology may come easy to some Soldiers, ensuring that they have a good foundation and understanding of joint operations would be helpful to successfully complete the course, Gilleland said.
“I recommend that Soldiers interested in the course complete the Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education course,” he said, referencing the program offered to all DOD personnel through the Joint Knowledge Online website. “It’s a good start to help open your eyes to how the other military branches operate.”
For Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Minson, a first sergeant with the Air Ambulance Detachment, 4th Ranger Training Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia, learning with the Air Force allows for unique opportunities to meet with senior military leaders during the course.
“I would never, in any other environment, get the opportunity to speak with the chief master sergeants of the Air Force and Space Force,” Minson said. “For them to talk [to the class] about strategies going forward, what they’re trying to do, how they’re going to build that force, that’s the stuff I’d usually have to read about in an article.”
Minson said his experience in the Air Force PME differed tremendously from previous Army PME he attended, noting that his class did a lot of discovery learning and used more multi-generational learning models.
“The course really caters to millennials and Gen-Zers and how we think and learn,” he said. “But, to be successful [in the course], Soldiers should still be locked in with the Military Decision Making Process, as well as how the Air Force and Space Force fall into the National Defense Strategy.”
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence is an accredited academic institution aligned under the Army University and the Combined Arms Command, and is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Previously known as the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, the NCOLCoE expanded its mission to include instruction for other programs such NCO Battle Staff, Commandants Pre-Command Course, Spouse Leadership Development Course and the U.S. Army Sergeant’s Major Academy Fellowship Program. For more information on the NCOLCoE, visit www.ncolcoe.army.mil
For more information on the AFSNCOA-ALE course, visit www.airuniversity.af.edu/Barnes/AFSNCOA