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Walk softly, carry a big hat

  • Published
  • By Capt. Carla Gleason
  • 433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Few Airmen are as easily recognizable as military training instructors. Everything about the MTI is larger than life: the shoes, the hat, the badge ... the voice. 

However, there is one thing about the career field that is less than imposing: its size. The Air Force is currently undermanned when it comes to MTIs, and military instructors are especially scarce in the Air Force Reserve. In fact, the 433rd Airlift Wing is the only Air Force Reserve wing with an MTI squadron, so, when the Air Force announced a planned increase in enlisted end-force strength, the wing's 27 MTIs began gearing up for a heavier work load. 

"433rd MTIs augment Lackland Air Force Base's Basic Military Training function as an integral part of our mission," said Capt. Quinton Sasnett, 433rd Training Squadron command staff officer. "With the plus-up of the BMTs coming, we have to find a way to make sure our MTIs are trained and ready to support that increase." 

Lackland BMT currently trains more than 34,000 Airmen on average each year. The Air Force announced February they will add about 220 MTIs to support an influx of 8,000 additional Airmen needed to reach manning projections during the next two years. 

The 433rd MTI Squadron, which currently has eight to 10 reservists actively training BMT flights at any given time, is looking to increase its number of MTI slots as well, including both traditional Reserve positions and Active Guard Reserve authorizations. 

"We're training today's 21st Century Airmen," said Senior Master Sgt. Julie Begley, 433rd Training Squadron superintendent. "In addition to our full-time Air Reserve Technician MTIs, we also bring in traditional reservists on the weekend who push and train BMT flights full force." 

"From a total force concept, we are stepping in right alongside the active-duty component," Captain Sasnett said. "433rd MTIs can conduct any part of the training mission just like MTIs on active duty." 

The 433rd AW understands talk about the Total Force. The unit is a Reserve wing uniquely positioned in the heart of Lackland AFB, known as the Gateway to the Air Force, where MTIs can work side-by-side with active-duty and National Guard members to make a seamless first impression on new Airmen. 

"When you see reservists working together with active-duty MTIs there isn't a visible difference between what we do," said Tech. Sgt. Jesse Gomez, 433rd TRS, who recently spent several months working at the MTI Training School here teaching future instructors. 

In some cases, according to Sergeant Gomez, Reserve MTIs have something additional to offer that their active-duty counterparts may not have - longevity. "We can stay in the field longer, where it's a controlled tour on the active duty side," he said. 

"Their retainability allows 433rd MTIs to step in as mentors to new active-duty training instructors," Captain Sasnett said. And, because MTIs from the 433rd TRS are not deployable, during wartime contingencies they can step in when active-duty members are positioned in Air Expeditionary Force rotations, allowing the deploying Airman to focus on the mission ahead. 

"It's important to know that this isn't a one-dimensional career field," said Tech. Sgt. Terrance Thoe, 433rd TRS MTI. "We can fill just about any role out there from section supervisors and field training to schoolhouse instructors." 

Sergeant Thoe himself was part of the team that activated the 321st Training Squadron, where he was able to see all of the aspects of the squadron. 

"Standing up the 321st was fast-paced and required a lot of improvising, but in the end I was able to influence the protocol and operational aspects of the squadron. The 433rd TRS definitely left its mark," Sergeant Thoe said. 

For those few applicants who make the cut, the MTI career field has a lot to offer according to Sergeant Begley. 

"MTI experience provides an excellent opportunity for career progression," Sergeant Begley said. "Many former instructors go on to become first sergeants, chief master sergeants and fill other leadership positions." 

The career field is also eligible for special-duty tour benefits including additional pay, an annual supplementary clothing allowance, an Air Education and Training Command badge, and, of course, a unique hat. 

Air Force Reservists interested in becoming MTIs with the 433rd Airlift Wing, can call 671-2410 for more information.