Korea's ALS Commandant
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every year, thousands of Airmen attend Airmen Leadership Schools at nearly 70 locations across the Air Force. But for Airmen stationed in the Republic of Korea, that's not so easy.
One senior non-commissioned officer, Master Sgt. Jerrme Stanton, stationed at Osan Air Base, ROK, has a one of a kind job to ensure the next group of frontline supervisors have the tools they need to succeed. Stanton is the Commandant of a very non-traditional ALS experience.
"My role as Commandant is to manage the overall operations of the ALS in accordance with The Barnes Center for Enlisted Education guidance," said Stanton. "I oversee the day-to-day operations, provide vision and leadership in its effort to equip our soon to be Junior NCOs and front-line supervisors with the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to assume their roles within the NCO corps."
While Stanton ensures the new NCOs are ready for their new roles, ALS in Korea is like nowhere else.
"I do not have or own a dedicated profession military education staff here on (the Korean) Peninsula," said Stanton. "In other locations, there is a team of instructors and staff members dedicated to each school house making sure everything PME happens."
Every other ALS in the Air Force is stationary, but not in the Republic of Korea. Instructors must come from other permanent ALS school houses across Pacific Air Forces.
"I work hand-in-hand with Hickam, Kadena and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson to rotate instructors in and out to support seven classes per year on the peninsula."
Just as instructors travel, so do students; all in an effort to ensure the Air Force's NCO corps remains strong and capable to face potential challenges.
Not all senior airmen attend ALS while stationed in Korea. However, the ones that do are pulled from across the Peninsula from locations like Osan AB, Kunsan AB and the numerous operating locations across the country.
Although bringing ALS and the students together is different, the classroom experience of students is no different for Airmen who attend at Kunsan Air Base or Osan Air Base instead of at a permanent location.
"We teach the same lessons in the same manner that a student would find at any other ALS around the Air Force," said Stanton. "However, we are forward deployed. We're always prepared to switch gears if and when we are called to do so. We are warrior Airmen first!"
Stanton believes students create stronger friendships throughout (this) course because they rely on each other just a bit more here in Korea "If you've ever done a tour in Korea you understand how the peer-to-peer friendships grow,' said Stanton.
A recent Kunsan Air Base graduate, Staff Sgt. Dustin O'Donnell, 8th Maintenance Group, agrees with Stanton.
"Attending ALS here at Kunsan helped me create good professional contacts," said O'Donnell. "It also helped me after I graduated in my job. I've used the connections from ALS to help with my work."
Professional development doesn't stop while Airmen are stationed in a remote location like the Republic of Korea. Stanton believes it's even more important that Airmen get this training while they are on the Peninsula.
"Attending ALS, being promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and being a supervisor are not entitlements, they are a privilege," said Stanton. "Because this privilege is so life-impacting, it is inherent that each member be hand selected and groomed for the Enlisted Professional Educational opportunity (of ALS)."
Stanton continued to emphasize the importance of ALS on the Peninsula.
"We expect our supervisors to be able to make life altering decisions in real time," said Stanton. "It's because of these expectations that I hold this curriculum and ALS experience in such a high regard to the development of all Airmen. I believe this was (former PACAF commander) General North's vision when he brought back the PME experience to the Korean Peninsula and why we are still here today."
Those that do attend ALS while stationed in Korea get a different experience than their counterparts across the world, but according to Stanton, it's a unique place that is busy crafting the leaders of tomorrow.