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108th Wing hosts its first satellite ALS

Airmen from the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, take a break from class to pose for a photograph at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., June 14, 2015. The eight Airmen attended the 108th Wing's first satellite Airmen Leadership School. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Julia Pyun/Released)

Airmen from the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, take a break from class to pose for a photograph at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., June 14, 2015. The eight Airmen attended the 108th Wing's first satellite Airmen Leadership School. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Julia Pyun/Released)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- -- Airmen from the 108th Wing attended the unit's very first satellite Airmen Leadership School at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Starting from May 9 to June 14, eight Airmen met every weekend for class. They left afterward for the in-resident portion at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee where they left afterwards for the two-week in-residence portion.

ALS is the first professional military education that Airmen encounter in their military careers and is necessary for those who want to put on the rank of staff sergeant. When 108th Airmen decide to go to ALS, they can pick between three options of learning through books, taking the new satellite course, or going to the school entirely in-residence in Tennessee for six weeks. According to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center's website, the school was named in honor of the first Director of the Air National Guard, Maj. Gen. I.G. Brown. Today, the education center is the heart of leadership training for the Air National Guard. More than 4,200 students per year attend a variety of professional military education courses and continuing education classes.

"The satellite class is great, but may not be for all Airmen," said Senior Master Sgt. Gerard Lamola, the lead facilitator for the 108th Wing's satellite ALS. "Some Airmen can't go away for six weeks to attend the school at McGhee Tyson, so this gives them another option."

For eight hours each day, every weekend, instructors from Tennessee broadcasted their lessons live to all satellite ALS participants. The lessons incorporated different scenarios that the Airmen needed to solve in group sessions. Facilitators assisted with the lessons dealing with numerous topics such as leadership, military history, culture, ethics, diversity etc. Other facilitators for the 108th Wing included Tech. Sgt. Steven Landis, Senior Master Sgt. Rebecca Kane, Senior Master Sgt. Michael Rakauckas, and Chief Master Sgt. Janeen Fillari.

"This is a great option for those who are visual and tactile learners," said Senior Airman Randy Morales, a production controller from the 108th Civil Engineer Squadron. "You're able to associate the answers with things you know and understand where the lessons are coming from. Reading something compared to doing it are two completely different things."

"I think it's a really good format because it's interactive, and you get to hear other people's opinions," said Senior Airman Carol Green, a knowledge operations manager with the 108th Force Support Squadron. "It gives you a lot of good, practical information in a condensed amount of time, so time management is very important."
The eight Airmen have gained the skills necessary to become a NCO in the Air National Guard. They graduated in time to come home to their families for the Fourth of July weekend.