HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Three federal civilian employees at Hill AFB are the first civil servants from the base to complete Airman Leadership School.
Sondria Linford, 533rd Commodities Maintenance Squadron, Kelvin Tifft, 526th Electronics Maintenance Squadron, and Heidi Wise, 309th Missile Maintenance Group, graduated Sept. 14 from ALS, a school normally dedicated to the Air Force’s junior enlisted Airmen.
The inclusion of civilian students was first adopted last year at Edwards AFB, California, and was a success. However, it is still very new across the rest of the Air Force.
ALS strengthens Hill workforce
The ALS mission is to prepare junior enlisted, specifically senior airmen, to become professional, warfighting Airmen who can supervise and lead Air Force teams to support employment of air, space, and cyberspace power.
The training has long been a routine step along the career path for all active-duty enlisted Airmen. Civilians at Hill AFB now have that same opportunity.
Senior Master Sgt. Lana Pray, Hill AFB ALS commandant, worked for over a year with her chain of command to research and prepare for this change. After coordinating with the union and labor relations, 75th Air Base Wing leaders were very supportive and gave the program the go-ahead.
Pray feels that including civilians in the ALS curriculum and introducing them to the military culture will strengthen the Hill AFB workforce and result in more effective civilian and military supervisors.
“Hill AFB, one of three Air Force Sustainment Center complexes, has a unique situation with a very large civilian population,” Pray said. “The challenge is that many shops are mixed with civilians supervising military members. In some cases, civilian supervisors may not fully understand how a military member’s career path functions and this can hinder a military member’s career development.”
“While attending ALS, civilians participate in every aspect of the training and are held to the same standards as their military counterparts. In addition to being introduced to management, leadership, and team building skills, those civilians who may not have had prior military service will hopefully experience camaraderie with their military counterparts and gain a better understanding of military culture.”
Course expectations same for military, civilians
ALS’s principal method of instruction is guided discussion where students share ideas and experiences while working together to achieve various educational objectives. Formative evaluations are then used to serve as feedback tools for students and instructors. Summative objective and performance evaluations, to include written assignments, briefings, and tests, are used to determine whether the educational requirements outlined in the course are met.
Just like military students, civilian students are required to satisfactorily accomplish all lesson objectives, including those pertaining to drill and ceremonies, using the criteria outlined in the course curriculum.
Civilian students must also participate in physical training with their flights and, based on their gender and age group, successfully accomplish the Air Force Fitness Assessment. This assessment consists of a 1.5-mile run, push-ups, and sit-ups. This requirement ensures a civilian student’s overall fitness level is equal to their military counterpart’s fitness level.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Edge, Hill AFB ALS instructor, believes the addition of civilians will benefit all students.
“Because of the large civilian workforce on this base, in particular, we have occasionally experienced one-sided perspectives expressed by military Airmen attending ALS,” Edge said. “These points of view have the potential to breed negative bias, so the introduction of civilians to the classroom and their full participation in discussions and training are sure to provide all Airmen with a better understanding of their differences and similarities. This well-rounded approach opens up new possibilities for better understanding across the entire workforce in accomplishing the same mission, as one team.”
The voluntary openings for up to two civilian students to attend ALS, which runs for 24 days, will continue at Hill AFB through next year. The two-student civilian allotment is based on available space after all military ‘must-train’ slots are filled.
Appropriated fund career appointments, career-conditional appointment civil servants, or non-appropriated fund employees with from 12 months to 8 years of time in federal service and in good standing are eligible. Time in service must be as of nomination due date. Prospective students must be in the following grade levels: GS (4-9); NF (3-4); NH (II) (entry level in their career); NJ (I-II); NK (I-II); WG (1-11); and WL (1-10).
Civilian employee participation is voluntary. Civilians are not required to enroll in or complete the course, nor will they suffer adverse consequences for not volunteering for, enrolling in, or completing the course.
Because of the limited number of spaces for civilian students, nomination and selection authorities will strive to nominate and select employees who have demonstrated the requisite personal drive, dependability, and commitment to excellence that would ordinarily indicate successful completion of the course.
The initiative will undergo a trial period lasting from August 2017 through March 2018, at which time a decision will be made on whether to continue offering seats to civilian students.
For more information, eligibility requirements and course description, contact Pray at 801-586-8245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.