MTL school: developing stronger, better leaders

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The Military Training Leader course at Keesler Air Force Base is responsible for training approximately 120 MTLs per year. Those MTLs are then responsible for training approximately 30,000 Airmen in 49 different locations that fall under Air Education and Training Command.

Over the years, the MTL course has undergone many changes to benefit not only the MTLs, but the Airmen they lead.

The beginning of the MTL career field originated in the 1970s, where they were originally called student training advisors and later changed their name to military training managers, and eventually became military training leaders in the 1990s.

“The Air Force realized Airmen needed supervision outside of the classroom,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Anderson, MTL course instructor.

It wasn’t until the 1990s when MTLs started going to school for the career field, however, they still did not have their own curriculum. They went through the same school as military training instructors.

“Through a lot of that time there was no formal education for MTLs on how to do their job as managing, leading and developing students outside of the classroom,” Anderson said. “It was later realized in 2008 that the career field needed its own technical training school to focus specifically on technical training and not just knowing what the Airmen go through in Basic Military Training.”

This course was only two weeks long and it was designed to focus solely on what was required of MTLs in the technical training environment.

“In 2016, the school house was moved down to Keesler (AFB) and went from a two-week course, which focused primarily on the roles and procedures of an MTL, to a four-week course,” Anderson said. “With the added two weeks we were able to put in resiliency training, human behavior and some lessons from the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence.”

Tech. Sgt. Landon Spaulding, 81st Training Support Squadron MTL instructor, describes the job as laying a foundation for Airmen that come through the pipeline.

“The MTL course is designed to talk to them (future MTLs) about effective leadership and knowing how to understand the human domain rather than just the technical domain,” Spaulding said. “What we do very well in the MTL school house is teach them how they can be more efficient and understanding of establishing good Airmen, so when they get to their first duty station they know how to deal with their stress.”

Throughout the course, the students participated in facilitated discussions rather than lectures to really encompass student-centered learning.

“We were able to interact with an advanced MTL course and just getting that live interaction from different Airmen in different scenarios really prepares us for the role that we’re about to take,” said Master Sgt. Ladwidia Castro, 81st TRSS MTL course student. “It has really taught me that leadership is not just a position, it’s more about inspiring and taking care of people; having compassion, empathy and leading by example.”

With having such a big impact on future Airmen, the MTL instructors place a great emphasis with putting the Airmen first.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to mentor, train and lead,” Spaulding said. “As a leader, knowing the Airmen come first and truly making that a priority is what we reinforce through the duration of this course. Being motivated, fired up and getting out there leading from the front is what I hope they take away from this course because if they do, everything else will take care of itself.”