AETC holds Senior Leader Conference Published March 10, 2017 By 2nd Lt. Brittany Curry 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Education and Training Command leadership held the Spring 2017 Senior Leader Conference this week at Sheppard. Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, AETC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Dave Staton, AETC command chief, along with over one hundred senior officer, enlisted and civilian leadership, came together for critical discussions on significant issues as part of a biannual conference focused on bettering the command’s mission, Airmen and capabilities. “AETC is entrusted with a huge mission,” Roberson said. “Our enterprise is charged with recruiting, training and educating every single Airman who enters and stays in our great Air Force.” This responsibility, Roberson said, rests on the shoulders of 60,000 men and women across the command, making the biannual conferences beneficial to ensuring strategic alignment and mission success. “This is a great opportunity for AETC leadership to better understand what we are collectively trying to accomplish for our Air Force and country -- to find and forge the best Airmen who can defend this great nation.” With leadership as the theme, conference attendees participated in discussions on growing the force, financial posturing, innovation challenges, retention, recruiting and the AETC strategic plan, among other topics. Roberson and senior leaders will now push forward to take on big challenges like growing the force and decreasing the pilot shortage. “AETC is critical to our nation’s success -- after all, Airpower starts here. Last year, our recruiters, training instructors and training leaders grew the active-duty force from 310,000 Airmen to 317,000; the highest percentage increase in a single year since the Vietnam War.” This year the command will be prepared for an increase to 321,000, followed by another increase to 324,000, with a final goal of close to 350,000. It’s a huge challenge where the people of AETC must be properly resourced to successfully accomplish, Roberson said. The command’s pilot challenge is focused on addressing the national-level crisis for pilots, Roberson said. “We are producing pilots at max capacity as we’ve ramped up to soon train 1,400 new pilots a year,” Roberson said. “Increasing our pilot force is imperative. The bottom line is it’s important for our national security.” While at Sheppard, Roberson and his team of senior leaders participated in events such as a dinner hosted by the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee, the AETC 2016 Outstanding Airmen of the Year Banquet, and an 82nd Training Wing Drill Down.