MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Cadets from the Air Force Academy attended an Air Liaison Officers Aptitude Assessment Feb. 13 to 17 at Camp Bullis, Texas.
Current ALOs and enlisted tactical air control party members from the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing filled the roles of cadre and raters to assess if the cadets have what it takes to join their career field.
“As ALOs, our primary mission is to advise Army ground commanders on the use of air power,” said 2nd Lt. Travis Hunt, 19th Air Support Operations Squadron air liaison officer. “Since the career field is demanding, both physically and mentally, we look to stress the guys out by denying them sleep while also presenting mentally rigorous challenges from writing assignments to interviews.”
ALOs are often Joint Terminal Attack Controller qualified as well, which means they can direct aircraft attacks from the ground during the heat of battle.
“Plain and simple, the job is very dangerous,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Clark, 353rd Battlefield Airmen Training Squadron tactical air control party instructor. “There are particular situations that these young leaders will find themselves in that, if they’re not strong leaders, they will quickly crumble, make bad decisions and potentially lead to the wrong individuals dying on the battlefield.”
When it comes to discussing when and where to drop bombs, Clark said the stakes are high, explaining ALOs need to be confident in themselves when making those decisions.
“We want to know if they’re confident enough in their abilities to stand up for themselves and their team,” Clark said. “It may not always be the right or wrong answer, but we don’t expect them to know all the intricate details of our job. If they’re strong enough to do that on their own, then we can teach them everything that they need to know once they’re actually in the career field.”
The cadets were introduced to many training experiences, conducting land navigation, military operations in urban terrain and multiple hours of physical training.
“We have them do a sequence of exercises that we utilize at the schoolhouse to get the guys in top physical condition,” Hunt said. “That also requires leadership on the candidate’s side as they step up to actually lead the exercises.”
This assessment is just the beginning for some of these cadets. If they are chosen to continue on, they will be sent to the schoolhouse for training.
“We’re very particular about who we want to select for this community,” Hunt said. “The rigor these guys face is really going to help us shape this career field into the best that it can be.”
Clark echoed Hunt’s dedication and pride in shaping their career field by maintaining a diligent eye on the prospective ALOs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of being granted the opportunity to come out here and be on the cadre team for this assessment,” Clark said. “It’s something I will always hold near and dear because I get to be part of that groundwork, knowing my fellow enlisted men and my Airmen are going to be taken care of by these individuals who enter the career field.”