SMC graduates first-ever Airman Leadership School class

  • Published
  • By Chip Pons
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Sixteen Airmen were honored following completion of Airman Leadership School (ALS) here, a twenty-four day course specifically designed to arm junior enlisted service members with the tools needed as they prepare for their role as future noncommissioned officers (NCOs) in the Air Force.

This marked a significant milestone for Los Angeles AFB as this was the first time the installation hosted the Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) course.

Senior Enlisted Advisor of the United States Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman attended the ceremony as the honorary speaker and offered his perspective on the graduates’ accomplishment.

“Too many times, leaders try to cover themselves in a veneer they perceive they are supposed to portray,” said Towberman. “That’s just not effective. You have the caliber, the character and the talent that we want and need. We need to see you for who you are but most importantly, your Airmen need to see you for who you are because that is who they will follow - not someone you’re pretending to be.”

“I ask that you be the first sergeant your Airmen talk to,” he continued. “Be the first sergeant that is on the scene during their careers and the one who represents this institution to everyone that you supervise…one that they have promised to give their lives to if the situation dictates. Remember, rank is not the definition of success. You each now have the opportunity to change the lives of your Airmen and their families. When you choose to see your success in the difference you make in the world, it means your success is 100 percent yours. I ask that you please take that seriously.”  

Throughout the course, Airmen were provided the foundation required to assume supervisory duties and leadership roles in direct support of air, space and cyberspace capabilities as NCOs.

“The transition to becoming a noncommissioned officer is an incredibly important moment in an Airman’s career,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Arnold, SMC command chief. “The tools and lessons you learn here in ALS are foundational standards, but leaders across the Department of Defense, including myself, are going to require you to be dynamic, flexible and forward-leaning. This year alone, we’ve had to change the way we accomplish missions and modernize our approach to training in a virtual environment; take that level of innovation with you as you become the next generation of noncommissioned officers.

“As you take on more responsibility and are charged with supervising and caring for Airmen, remember that noncommissioned officers are the bedrock of the enlisted corps,” she continued. “Your senior leaders are going to look to you to collectively tackle the challenges our Airmen face, and at the same time, Airmen are going to look to you to instill the strong foundational tone being a member of the armed forces requires.”

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the ALS curriculum had to be adapted to meet the demands of a virtual environment.  However, students and instructors bonded through adversity and noted the challenges allowed them to connect on a more personal level.

Historically, Airmen eligible to attend ALS would be sent to Vandenberg AFB to attend the course but for the first time ever, instructors from the 30th Space Wing were hosted by the 61st Air Base Group to provide instruction to Los Angeles-based students.

“To ALS class 20-E, thank you for your constant dedication, enthusiasm and your display of professionalism for twenty-four academic days,” said Staff Sgt. Olivia Riggar, 30th Force Support Squadron ALS instructor at Vandenberg AFB. “This was no easy feat to accomplish, especially in an online environment but we dominated as a team. Through this style of learning, I was able to get to know each and every one of you and am so proud of all you have accomplished. We triumphed in the face of adversity and made history together as the first-ever ALS class to graduate from Los Angeles AFB.”

“I look forward to watching you grow as NCOs and as you accomplish your personal and professional goals within the military,” she continued. “As you head back to your units, remember our saying: faster alone, further together.”

Staff Sgt. Alana Nunez, 61st Medical Squadron medical logistics support, was the inaugural recipient of the John L. Levitow Award, the highest honor presented for EPME to the student who demonstrated the most outstanding leadership and scholastic achievement throughout the course.

While the successful completion of this course marks the first graduation from LA AFB, perspective attendees can expect the course to be held annually in partnership with the 61st ABG, the 30th SW and the U.S. Space Force.  

To view the first-ever graduation ceremony, click here.