Only a few can relate

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Thrash
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Students who attend the linguist course at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California, have a very different experience than other Airmen going through technical training. At DLIFLC, most students are there over a year and can end up staying there up to three years depending on their course.

For Tech. Sgt. Krista Smith, 314th Training Squadron military training leader, she walked the same halls of DLIFLC when she was an Airman taking the Persian Farsi course.

“It was very stressful,” said Smith. “I remember thinking ‘if only one of the MTLs had gone through here and understood’ because it’s a different kind of beast. This is very different than any other tech school, your teachers are foreign nationals from that specific country, so there isn’t a lot of military exposure.”

MTLs are responsible for hundreds of students at a time and have to ensure they are physically and mentally fit for the responsibilities of being an Airman during and after tech school.

“I always enjoyed instructing, but I was not cut out to be an MTI, nor did I have any desire to be one,” said Smith. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to instruct and be able to mentor students while also growing and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”

MTLs are in charge of physical training, room inspections, ensuring all Airmen adhere to standards and act as frontline supervisors for all the Airmen in their squadron.

Smith is also in charge of the Airmen leader program. This program gives students the basic fundamentals of leadership and places them under the MTLs to learn new leadership skills.

“The best part of this job is helping Airmen,” said Smith. “When you have an Airman come in who is either going through a really hard time or doesn’t know what they’re doing, and they’re able to leave with a positive outlook and a plan for the way forward; it’s an amazing feeling.”