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Air Education and Training Command Symposium begins

Gen. Edward A Rice, commander of Air Education and Training Command told AETC Symposium attendees, "This symposium is an investment in you [the service members] so that AETC will continue to grow ...." during his opening remarks. Symposium is a two-day conference designed to inspire AETC Airmen at all levels to engage critical thinking to continue to improve themselves and the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas)

Gen. Edward A Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command addresses a crowd of service members, civilians, and civic and business leaders during his opening marks at the 2012 Air Education and Training Command Symposium. The two-day event features more than 70 seminars and panels highlighting the leading education and training-related services in the military and industry. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas)

SAN ANTONIO -- The 2012 Air Education and Training Command Symposium started today at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center here.

More than 4,000 service members, civilians, and business and civic leaders are attending the two-day symposium. The event's theme is "Develop America's Airmen Today...for Tomorrow" and features more than 70 seminars and panels highlighting the leading education and training-related services in the military and industry.

"I'm fully confident over the next two days there's going to be more than enough for each one of us to do during the days and the nights and you'll walk away from here thinking this was one of the better professional experiences you've been able to cram into a two-day period," said Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., AETC commander during his opening remarks.

The general, who's also the host of the symposium, said in order to succeed, you have to continue investing in the future.

"This symposium is an investment in you [the service members] so that AETC will continue to grow; so you can help build the AETC of the future, not hold on to the AETC of the past - that's a losing game." Rice said. "I fully expect the benefits that you will derive from your participation in this symposium will far exceed the investment made to bring you here."

Attendees will also see the latest technology and ideas in recruiting, training, education and innovation at the co-located Air Force Association Expo, which features more than 120 military and industry exhibits.

"This is my first time being at something like this," said Airman 1st Class Jake Tuazon, F-22 Raptor maintenance specialist at Tyndall AFB, Fla. "I think it's a cool place to learn and experience new things. I just did a [shooting simulator] so I got to experience what security forces members go through."

Airman Tuazon said he hopes to learn something new at this year's symposium and be wowed by the advances in education and technology on display.

The symposium also provides a platform to show participants AETC's plan for the future.

"We have big plans for the next year that entail thinking anew about how we execute through the recruiting, training and education mission as well as adopting a new culture of cost consciousness." Rice said. "This is not about looking behind us and longing for the past, but looking ahead of us and shaping the future."