Schoolhouse Spotlight: MTL instructor course

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The first group of Keesler-bred military training leaders are busy marching, training and learning in the 81st Training Support Squadron’s Military Training Leader instructor course.

The school, formerly based out of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, has made its new home here at the Air Force’s second-largest technical training base and began Feb. 1, 2016.

“Our moniker here is ‘Mentor, train, lead,’” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Mullen, 81st TRSS MTL schoolhouse instructor. “We take NCOs and senior NCOs and teach them how to fill these critical leadership positions and build on the foundational training Airmen received in Basic Military Training.”

Throughout the nine-day course, staff, technical and master sergeants selected via the Developmental Special Duty program learn the fundamentals of being an MTL.

“We teach a variety of different topics,” said Mullen. “They learn about technical training-specific topics like the Airmen Leader Program, Charge of Quarters, remedial military training, transition programs, as well as instruction and refreshers on human behavior, drill formations and terms, MTL qualities, how to lead physical training, dress and appearance and more.”

Beyond the day-to-day functions of an MTL, students also learn about their role as mentors and how to build on what their BMT counterparts, military training instructors, taught throughout basic training.

“We’re responsible for Airmen who are fresh out of BMT to continue their military standards training while they attend academic training,” said Mullen. “MTIs have a very structured regimen they have to abide by in order to transition civilians into Airmen. Here, MTLs don’t necessarily know what they’re walking into each day, so they have to know how to respond like a first-line supervisor; they have to be well-connected and be able to reach out to all the different base agencies to find help for their Airmen.”

As the course’s home has moved from Lackland, usually known for BMT, to Keesler, known for its technical training mission, NCOs attending the schoolhouse now have much more access to firsthand experiences related to what they’ll be doing as MTLs.

“It just makes sense to have it here,” Mullen said. “We’re a model of tech training with the Levitow [Training Support Facility] and its one-stop-shop for meeting Airmen’s needs. Team Keesler prides itself on being the best place to provide technical training. We’re taking every opportunity to actually go see the training in action over in the 81st Training Group.”

Though the course’s two instructors, Mullen and Staff Sgt. Alexandria Valdez are taking Keesler’s first MTL course day-by-day, they’re also looking toward the future and ways to expand, improve upon and champion the base’s newest training school.

“What we’re going to do is identify a whole new course,” Mullen said. “We want to introduce more human behavior and communication elements so they’re so confident in their abilities as a mentor and councilor they feel like a mini-first sergeant.”

Valdez also added there will be a larger heritage focus in the future, with the course’s schoolhouse doubling as a showcase of training and MTL history and achievement.

Mullen and Valdez also offered words of advice from their experiences as MTLs to the students passing through the schoolhouse.

“As MTLs their responsibility is to recognize what the training environment is,” said Mullen. “They’re charged to inspire and be there for their Airmen. Know them in a professional way and know how to help them. MTLs aren’t here to yell, they’re here to mentor.”

“You’re responsible for lots of other people here,” Valdez said. “I want our students to take away that it’s a challenging job, but don’t let it change who you are. Don’t change; instead use it to enhance those NCO qualities you already have.”