Airman graduates Singapore Joint Advance Leadership Course

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Bright
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Professional military education opportunities commonly arise as Airmen develop along their Air Force journey ; yet some Airmen get a chance to sharpen their skills with unconventional PME methods.

A senior non-commissioned officer, here, was the fifth U.S. Air Force Airman to graduate from the Joint Advance Leadership Course recently, at the Singapore Armed Forces Warrant Officer School, Camp Pasir Laba, Republic of Singapore.

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Seiler, the superintendent for the Military Personnel Exchange Program and Overseas Developmental Education, here, attended the three-week course alongside other exchange service members from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

This course offers one of only a handful of opportunities per year to an Airman to fulfill professional military education requirements by attending a partner nation academy or U.S. sister service school. Potential students are nominated by their Command Chief and receive SNCO Academy credit for their attendance.

"These exchanges can simply be looked at as a tool that facilitates relationship building and interoperability," said Senior Master Sgt. Sam Sparks, PACAF's Enlisted Engagement Manager. "These opportunities ultimately equip the students with the ability to work side-by-side on future challenges such as humanitarian aid, disaster response, and regional exercises."

Sparks gave the example that, "if deployed together tomorrow as a team, the relationship and culture is already somewhat established and understood and the team is that much more prepared to accomplish the mission from the outset."

During the course, Seiler took part in class runs along a path used by Japanese and Singaporeans during one of the final battles of World War II. Seiler's classmates urged him to try unfamiliar foods, was offered Singaporean Air Force physical training gear, and various patches, insignia and devices from their uniforms. Knowing he had no family to return to at the end of the class day, Seiler's classmates quickly extended offers to host him for dinner in their homes further exposing him to their culture.

"Having served in different career fields and on various deployments over the course of my career, I was able to share my experiences with the students whose mission and force structure doesn't necessarily facilitate those types of experiences," Seiler said.
As with most PME exchanges, format will differ based on what leadership determines to be the most important for senior enlisted leadership development. However, one of the many similarities Seiler noted was the importance of developing resilient Airmen and families.

Seiler illustrated an example from a presentation he was assigned. "Each student in the class had to present a two-slide briefing titled, 'Personal Sharing'. The first slide was about the student's military specialty and the second was about the student's family, friends and hobbies.

"The school wanted you to talk about your family and friends and what you do as a person," Seiler said. "The focus of the exercise was intended to be the stories students share about their families and what is most important in their lives."

Seiler said that while he did receive a top notch PME experience and many of the lessons similar to the AFSNCOA curriculum, he now understands the importance of fostering international relationships and he clearly sees the need for enlisted engagement which is part of PACAF's long term strategic plan.