The road to becoming an air liaison officer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The role of an air liaison officer is to help ground commanders coordinate airpower. This can be both a physically and mentally demanding job. It takes a lot to become one of these Airmen.

During a recent ALO selection course here the instructors looked for the best of the best to ensure each member has what it takes to pass the final course. Preparing for this can be a challenge not only for the trainees but the instructors as well.

That is why any Airman looking to attempt the air liaison officer course must first go through a rigorous test made up by tactical air control party members and instructors who know precisely what is needed to prepare and test them for the future.

"To ensure these members will pass, they are put through a rigorous pre-course," said Master Sgt. Richard Setlock, 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing TACP member. "This not only gives us the chance to see if they are ready, but it shows them what they will be facing and help them decide if this is what they really want."

The course is less than a week long but is made up of scenarios that pushed the officer's minds and bodies to their limit. It further tested their abilities as officers and leaders.

"Coming into this, I had no clue what to expect but I prepared and trained the best I could," said James Kearney, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, Cincinnati, Ohio. "I had never gone marching with a 'ruck' on my back so that was definitely something to get used to."

The participants in the course range from officers currently in the Air Force to cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy and members from college ROTC programs in their senior year.

"We were all strangers coming into this course since each one of us is from a different part of the country," said Cadet Kearney. "But by the end, we became close and built that camaraderie and worked like a team."

The group started with 27 members but after the first test four were released for not being able to complete the challenge. After that, the numbers slowly dropped until only 16 remained on the final day where the decision would be made to sign off and say that person could continue on. Others could return later and try again.

The course is held twice a year, once at the beginning and once at the end. This is done to ensure the weather is at its best for the long 'ruck' marches and the continuous training that is done outside.

At the end of the week, the remaining members were judged by the cadre and the 93rd AGOW commander. Those names were sent for final approval and in the end those selected were given the go-ahead to begin the long road to becoming an air liaison officer.