ALS for a Coastguardsman?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shandresha Mitchell
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Staci Wantuck was selected for an opportunity that many of her peers in the Coast Guard may never be afforded, the opportunity to attend the Air Force's Airman Leadership School.

For the Air Force, attending ALS is a mandatory requirement for E-4s who have been selected to promotion, and is a five week program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors, as well as the first professional military education course that enlisted Air Force members encounter. However, through established cross service partnerships, selective opportunities are available.

When approached by her leadership about the chance to attend, Wantuck immediately said she was up for the challenge.

"I thought it would be a really unique opportunity to get to work with another branch because I haven't had that experience thus far in the Coast Guard," commented Wantuck. "So going to ALS and seeing how the Air Force works and getting the leadership pieces that we don't get in the Coast Guard would be advantageous."

With the Coast Guard's leadership training only being a few days, the partnership between the local Coast Guard and MacDill is extremely valuable; It facilitates a hands-on, peer-based development of leadership abilities and lays the foundation for more effective communication.

However, the opportunity didn't come without its own problems. With different instructions and guidelines, Wantuck had to identify and translate the Air Force's curriculum to correlate with the Coast Guard's concepts.

"Clearly we are different branches and have different rules and policies, but it's still a military environment," commented Wantuck. "We still face a lot of the same problems with leadership responsibilities, so we relate there."

Wantuck described the knowledge she gained and shared during her time in ALS.

"The most important aspect I took away from ALS is that leadership is what you make of it," said Wantuck. "You can be a passive leader, someone who waits for things to happen, or you can be a proactive leader and want to develop people and want to develop yourself; so I definitely say that leadership is what you decide to make of it."

During her time in ALS, Wantuck unearthed a newfound desire to be a proactive, developing leader.

"I found out that I want to be a developing leader, a leader who inspires junior members to become strong leaders and accomplish their goals," commented Wantuck. "But I feel that it's going to take experience and time for me to become that type of leader; I need to become that trusted mentor to junior members."

Wantuck acknowledged that the partnership benefitted her greatly, and that it is a partnership that should continue to be afforded across the services.

"When I reflect on where I was before the class and where I am now, I am proud of who I have become; I have new skillsets, a widened perspective and a myriad of different tools in my leadership tool bag," commented Wantuck. "I am ready to lead."