OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As the Airpower Leadership Academy’s (ALA) third iteration concludes at Osan Air Base, there is something different about this session’s graduates.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Burns, 35th Air Defense Artillery, becomes the first Soldier to graduate the 51st Operations Support Squadron’s (OSS) ALA course since its creation in 2014.
“The Airpower Leadership Academy is a 10 week course designed to target frontline supervisors and help mold them into stronger leaders,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. James Kent, 51st OSS superintendent and ALA cadre. “We bring Noncommissioned Officers(NCOs) from around base and help build and share their leadership philosophies; as well as, tap into their experiences and experiences of other classmates.”
The academy is not built for any type of NCO. Students are selected on an influential level basis and have to be nominated by a prior student, but there are a few exceptions.
“We take inputs from prior students when inviting members to the class,” said Kent. “We notify the base when we have a course, and we let leadership know that we want an active NCO, not just a yes man to attend the course.”
When the 51st OSS publicized this iteration, the 35th ADA Brigade jumped at the opportunity to send one of their supervisors.
“The 51st OSS reached out for nominations and the 35th ADA was happy to send one of our NCOs,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Eric R. McCray, 35th ADA. “We chose Burns because he epitomizes what we expect of our NCOs. He displays all the traits and characteristics that the Army wants to reflect.”
To McCray, courses like the ALA are a tool that can help solidify the Air Force and Army team.
“Through these combined courses, it helps us better understand our joint partners. It provides a platform for our younger NCOs to get exposed to the joint team, so they can more effectively solve complicated problems together,” said McCray. “Continuing to work together enhances our interoperability and ensures that not only will we be able to fight tonight, but we’ll be able to fight together.”
As the class graduates, Burns will take the knowledge back to his brigade.
“I’m glad my leadership gave me this opportunity. After being informed that I was selected for the ALA, I wanted to see what the course was all about,” said Burns. “As leaders, we don’t know everything and have different experiences. It was exciting to hear and discuss our philosophies with the class.”
“It was a great course, and I loved it,” said Burns. “I would recommend any frontline supervisor attend the course if given a chance.”
The 51st OSS will be starting a new ALA course at the beginning of the year with three total classes scheduled in 2018.