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Forrest L. Vosler NCOA rolls out new course

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructors line up on the side of the classroom to welcome the first students to attend the new Intermediate Learning Experience course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. Vosler NCOA is the third NCO Academy in the Air Force to roll-out ILE. The new program is more student-centered rather than instructor-centered allowing students to develop their own solutions to situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructors line up on the side of the classroom to welcome the first students to attend the new Intermediate Learning Experience course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. Vosler NCOA is the third NCO Academy in the Air Force to roll-out ILE. The new program is more student-centered rather than instructor-centered allowing students to develop their own solutions to situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chief Master Sgt. Bob Woodin, Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, briefs the benefits of the new Intermediate Learning Experience course to the first NCOs attending the course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. The Vosler NCOA instructors have transitioned their academy course from the Legacy program to the new ILE course for the new class. The result is a more student-centered learning program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chief Master Sgt. Bob Woodin, Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, briefs the benefits of the new Intermediate Learning Experience course to the first NCOs attending the course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. The Vosler NCOA instructors have transitioned their academy course from the Legacy program to the new ILE course for the new class. The result is a more student-centered learning program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy staff and students begin the new Intermediate Learning Experience course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. The old course, Legacy, which was instructor-centered with specific lesson plans, papers and speeches is beginning to be replaced at all of the Air Force NCOAs. The ILE course is more student-centered with group projects and problem solving situations. Vosler NCOA is the third to transition to ILE. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy staff and students begin the new Intermediate Learning Experience course at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 9, 2016. The old course, Legacy, which was instructor-centered with specific lesson plans, papers and speeches is beginning to be replaced at all of the Air Force NCOAs. The ILE course is more student-centered with group projects and problem solving situations. Vosler NCOA is the third to transition to ILE. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy rolled out its new Intermediate Learning Experience course with the first class starting March 9.

NCOA is an in-residence course NCOs can attend after completing Course 15 with a satisfactory grade. They must also have been in the Air Force for at least seven years but not more than 12 years. NCOA is not a mandatory program for Airmen since Course 15 meets the requirement for the rank of master sergeant; however it is an optional opportunity to further develop leadership skills.

Vosler NCOA is the third to roll out the new ILE course; the first being Mathies NCOA at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and the second being Kisling NCOA at Kapaun Air Station, Germany, said Master Sgt. Wichard Ho, Vosler NCOA superintendent of faculty development.

"The transition takes us from the old style of leadership where we were basically force feeding and telling you how to be a leader, to where we are facilitating situations and environments to collaborate as a team to come up with the solutions," said Chief Master Sgt. Bob Woodin, Vosler NCOA commandant. "They will get to take the leadership skills they learned from Course 15 and prior experiences and put it all together to come up with their own solutions, instead of me telling them how to fix it. It's pretty exciting."

The old course, Legacy, was instructor lead with specific lesson plans, book work, and tests. Comparable to a traditional college course, the students would write multiple papers and give speeches throughout the course.

"What we have found and what the Air Force has found is a lot of the institutional competencies that we try to instill in our NCOs are not necessarily valued as much because once you are done with the test, some forget about the material," said Ho. "The new ILE course is focused on the willingness to act, the cognitive preference, where as we leaders have to be able to not only see a problem but provide a solution, be honest, and have the courage to make those hard decisions."

The program is not only new for the students but it's a change of pace for the instructors as well. A few instructors went to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to learn ILE and take it back to the academy. The instructors transition from being front and center to letting the students lead their own projects and develop their skills together. 

"As instructors, we are leaving a program where we taught every lesson. Now we have them doing a lot of different projects where we have less of an instructor role and more of an observer role, watching their leadership behaviors and giving them feedback," said Tech. Sgt. Lucas Angil, Vosler NCOA flight instructor. "It's a big change for us, it will be a good experience because we actually get to see how people are learning from the course content and apply it to their projects, it's going to be fun."

The approximately 95 NCOs will be broken up into smaller flights to accomplish the projects together. Upon completion of the course, the NCOs will return to their respective units to continue leading their units and the Airmen.

"We have the finest NCO corps and finest group of Airmen in the world. We expect them to make immediate, professional decisions and sometimes we don't give them the tools to do that," said Woodin. "Our environment right now is giving them just that -the tools to be able to make decisions through the empowerment and collaboration of other leaders and peers around them."

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui