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Military Training Leaders provide new Airmen with seamless transition

By Airman 1st Class Dillon Parker | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | April 11, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

Military Training Leaders at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland serve as first-line supervisors and handle everything from room inspections to computer-based trainings for hundreds of Airmen at time.

“I’ve been an MTL for almost two years and it’s been the busiest, most eventful, challenging and rewarding job I’ve had thus far in the Air Force,” said Staff Sgt. Ashley White, 344th Training Squadron MTL. “If I had to compare it to any other job in the Air Force, I’d say we’re like first sergeants times 10.”

MTLs are responsible for administration, mentorship and training for all technical training students at their various squadrons, said White.

“Administratively, we have to make sure each student completes all the requirements for their next duty stations,” White said. “That can include computer-based trainings, immunizations and safety briefings. We’re also responsible for mentoring these Airmen and making sure they adhere to Air Force standards.”

Even though MTLs are responsible for many different aspects of each student’s career, they perform these duties for hundreds of Airmen at a time, said White.

“At the 344th [TRS], we only have seven MTLs responsible for over 400 students,” White said. “A lot of time goes into it and it’s very unpredictable. You never know what an Airman is going to present you with on a given day, and the job is never ending.”

This situation is not unique to the 344th TRS, as MTLs across the Air Force deal with the daily challenges presented by such large volumes of students, said Tech. Sgt. Kelley McKinley, 343rd Training Squadron MTL.

“[The 343rd TRS] has around 1,400 students to 23 MTLs at all times,” McKinley said. “When I first got here, I thought I would make a nice planner and have everything scheduled, but as an MTL, you can't do that. You can really try, but something is going to happen that needs your immediate attention.”

Some of the duties that often require immediate attention are Red Cross notifications and mentorship sessions, McKinley added.

“When we get Red Cross notifications, we immediately drop everything and potentially have to pass on some unfortunate news to an Airmen,” McKinley said. “Other times a student who’s having a hard time will come in to my office and (need) counsel. You just try to pull from your personal experience and come up with a solution for the student.

“You’re potentially talking to 100 different Airmen with 100 different issues every single day,” he added.

MTLs are also responsible for instilling discipline in the students.

“Discipline is very important here,” McKinley said. “They need to understand that their actions have consequences. Discipline, attention to detail and our core values are what make the student an Airmen.”

Even though the job can be fast-paced and demanding, McKinley and White agree it’s very rewarding.

“Motivating people, helping them through this stressful time early in their Air Force career is the best part of my job,” McKinley said.

“I have the privilege of preparing Airmen for success in the world’s greatest Air Force,” White said. “It might be the most challenging job I’ve had, but it’s also the most rewarding.”