by Airman 1st Class Zach Bumpus
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
2/1/2016 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom -- In
an Air Force characterized by ever-tightening budgets, the 501st Combat
Support Wing is defined by its innovations, even if those ideas come
from outside of its normal mission.
For the first time in 501st CSW history an Airman Leadership School
class is being held at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom, a move estimated
to save the U.S. Air Force $80,000.
Typically when an Airman from the 501st CSW attends an ALS class they
will be sent to RAF Feltwell, where the ALS schoolhouse is located.
Feeding and lodging the future noncommissioned officers gets expensive
fast, especially considering the length of the course. To combat this,
instead of bringing the students to the class, the class has come to the
"For me this makes perfect sense," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew M. Contreras,
the ALS instructor teaching the class on RAF Alconbury. "If we can save
$80,000 by having one instructor come here instead of having all 15
students TDY [Temporary Duty Assignment] up to RAF Feltwell. It's really
However, this cost saving measure comes with the question of how it will
affect the mission. According to Contreras, the move of the class to
RAF Alconbury could be very beneficial for the students.
"Outside of the cost saving initiative, the biggest advantage that we
have in bringing the course here is that the Airmen can go home to their
friends and families at the end of the day," said Contreras. "The
course is designed to push them outside their comfort zones already, and
when on top of that they are TDY to a new place it puts extra stress on
them. Here they have the opportunity to go home at the end of the day,
decompress and come back to class ready to go."
As this is the first time the class is being held on RAF Alconbury, continuous process improvement is a top priority.
"We've never done something like this before, but we are always looking
for ways to get the most out of what we have," said Contreras. "We will
really be relying on airman feedback to see what can be improved for