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Laughlin grooms civilian leaders with ALS opportunity

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Airman Leadership School is a five-week course that teaches junior enlisted Airmen leadership, management, and duties of the Air Force’s non-commissioned officer tier.

Earlier this year, the opportunity arose for civilians to take the course, the 47th Maintenance Directorate at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, wasted no time sending five civil service maintainers. Five maintainers were part of ALS class 19-F, and learned how to be a better leader and civil servant, but also how they fit into the total force concept.

“I feel like going through ALS showed me the importance of the jobs we do here in the back shops,” said Junior Moreno, a 47th MXD avionics mechanic. “We’re not only helping Laughlin, but the whole Air Force, because the parts we fix here and the things we do here go all across the Air Force.”

Moreno, a former U.S. Army engineer and infantryman, was one of the five maintainers who took the course. To him, ALS was much different than what he was anticipating, dealing more with organization and acting out real-world scenarios that supervisors will be faced with.

“One of the most important things I took away was maintaining a positive environment with my coworkers,” he said. “If there’s a friendly environment in the back shops that means morale will increase and therefore production will increase as well.”

Also seeking to better prepare himself for a supervisory role, Efrain Gonzales, 47th Maintenance Directorate mechanic helper, a 47 MXD T-1 Jayhawk mechanic, also attended the ALS program. Gonzales, who became a mechanic utilizing the Air Force Pathways Internship Program, was nominated to attend by John Jasper, 47th MXD T-1 Jayhawk division chief.

“They got the whole nine yards,” said Jasper. “They were there on the weekends, they did group projects and contributed to the community along with their active duty counterparts. I don’t believe there’s a better way to bring somebody into the fold than that.”

Jasper describes the ALS program as a great way to start investing in Gonzales’ professional career early, while also giving him a sense of place and purpose in the Air Force. Though the ALS program caters to junior enlisted and NCO’s, there’s many lessons that can be taken away and applied by anyone who attends. For Moreno, Gonzales, and the maintainers of the 47th MXD, it’s extra tools to help them in their careers, and to help Laughlin graduate the world’s best military aviators.

“I would definitely recommend more civil servants go and give a shot,” Moreno said. “I hope Air Education and Training Command gives us more slots to go, so we can send more maintainers to become better supervisors and help take the Maintenance Directorate to a new level.”