JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The 688th Cyberspace Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland wrapped up its inaugural mentorship program April 12. Airpower Leadership Academy provided 11 staff and technical sergeants the opportunity to learn from several senior noncommissioned officer facilitators during 10 weekly, two-hour sessions, all with one goal in mind.
“The purpose of ALA is to develop junior NCOs into strong leaders by helping them find and solidify their leadership philosophy,” said Master Sgt. Rudy Chavez, 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron operations superintendent and ALA director.
ALA is unrelated to professional military education, such as Airman Leadership School or Noncommissioned Officer Academy; and supplemental education, such as the NCO Professional Enhancement Seminar.
“This program builds on the PME foundation through deliberate mentorship,” said Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, 688th Cyberspace Wing command chief master sergeant. “We connect senior NCOs – who are able to provide perspective – with junior NCOs, so these junior NCOs can find and feel comfortable with their leadership style.”
Each session was focused on an individual leadership quality, such as empowerment, resilience and effective influence. Although facilitators guided themed discussion, students were encouraged to share their feedback and experiences with the group.
The students voiced their opinions about leadership, and agreed and disagreed with one another. This cross-talk helped each of them see where they were right or wrong, or maybe just needed better direction, according to Chavez.
One student said he benefited greatly from his attendance.
"ALA took the best part of PME and gave it a dedicated venue, the free discussion of topics impacting the force amongst peers,” said Tech. Sgt. Kendall Priest, 836th Cyberspace Operations Squadron Maintenance and Support NCO in charge. “It has given me better insight into the thought processes of those around me. I think getting the diverse perspective of others will help immensely in leadership and everyday situations."
The program was originally created at Osan Air Base, South Korea, by Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kwiatkowski, now 56th Fighter Wing command chief at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Avila directed the program at Osan AB and, after arriving here, introduced it to Chavez. It has also spread to a handful of other bases, including Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Luke Air Force Base.
“Master Sgt. Chavez took this program and ran with it,” Avila said. “He made it his own and got a great group of senior NCOs behind it. This is a great program for any wing; and if you get a great junior NCO out of it, it’s something you should invest in.”
The next course iteration is scheduled for this fall and will also be opened up to the 688th CW’s sister wing, the 67th Cyberspace Wing. Students must be nominated by their squadron leaders or current graduates.