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Robersons discuss challenges, change at Columbus AFB

Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, speaks with Col. Douglas Gosney, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander, Sept. 12, 2016 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Owens)

Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, speaks with Col. Douglas Gosney, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander, Sept. 12, 2016 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Owens)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, and his wife, Cheryl, sat down for an interview with Columbus Air Force Base Public Affairs Airmen after visiting members of Team BLAZE Sept. 13, 2016.

Roberson was able to see the wing’s mission first-hand and explained how important it is to the command’s mission and the future of pilot training.

“AETC must grow its training capacity,” he said. “The capacity as a whole is increasing, but we are constantly working on how to best train our Airmen. We are always looking for innovative ways to train and teach.”

The 14th Flying Training wing's mission is specialized undergraduate pilot training in the T-6 Texan II, T-38C Talon and T-1A Jayhawk aircraft. Currently, there are 60 international students with 23 nations represented. Roberson said the collaboration of U.S. and international student pilots affects future allied and coalition operations.

“The bonds forged here are critical for future collaboration of airpower efforts and that is what we bring,” he said. “The way that we are able to integrate here will allow us to fight in an integrated way that you cannot get unless you have spent time flying together. The training done here is important for the success of airpower.”

Roberson shared a personal experience from his pilot training days at Sheppard AFB, Texas, where he went through training with German and British officers, one of whom he was later stationed with at 3rd Air Force headquarters.

“We had official business we needed to take care of, but within five minutes of being with each other we were back to being the friends we were as lieutenants,” he said.  Roberson said it was easy for them to accomplish the mission because they knew and trusted each other.

Roberson said his love for accomplishing the flying mission as well as the importance of the well-being of the Airmen and members that make up the service are key factors in driving his family’s longevity in the Air Force.

“It’s the camaraderie,” he said. “It’s the hard work we go through to get to success, the shared experiences, and the shared life that has kept us in the Air Force.”

Roberson’s wife said she had a great two-day visit. She had the opportunity to visit many base programs focused on Airmen and families and said she was “nothing but impressed.”

“It has been a great visit and we’ve really enjoyed being here,” she said. “Columbus holds a special place for us because our son graduated from pilot training here.  We know first-hand that you create world-class pilots.”

Roberson closed his visit by emphasizing Team BLAZE makes a difference every day.

“Airpower truly starts here.”