SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
F-35 Lightning II maintenance training and finding innovative ways to educate future Airmen were among the topics discussed at the Air Force Logistics Strategy Summit.
The annual strategy summit was held at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, October 11-13, 2017.
“The A4 board and I see an Air Force that will look quite different 30 years from now,” said Lt. Gen. John Cooper, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection. “We’ll have to be much more agile, much more connected, and we’re making sure we’re prepared for that.”
The Air Force is currently on pace to stand up two new F-35 squadrons a year and leaders understand the importance of providing the manpower to support the aircraft.
“It’s an exciting time for us because the F-35’s capabilities are incredible and we’re relying on the Airmen produced right here at Sheppard to maintain those airplanes as we go forward,” said Cooper.
The F-35 is an asset that is not only supported by the Air Force and our joint partners, but by the original manufacturer, too. Lockheed Martin plays a vital role in training future F-35 maintainers.
“The contractor provides a depth of knowledge that really augments what our professional, active duty Air Force instructors teach new Airmen.”
In addition to supporting the F-35 mission, the Air Force will continue to recruit more maintainers for every airframe in its arsenal.
The Air Force produced approximately 5,000 maintenance troops in 2016. This year, that number will be closer to 8,000.
“We’re flooding the gates with maintainers, which is great, but the next challenge will be getting those Airmen up to speed quickly with their advanced training,” said Cooper. “We’re going to have a lot of young people on the flight line.”
The 982nd Training Group at Sheppard will provide that advanced training for enlisted maintenance Airmen at its field training detachments that span across the globe.
When it comes to developing officers, the leaders who attended the summit believe they have a solution for that, too.
Enter the Continuum of Learning. When Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, Air Education and Training Command commander, announced his plans for the innovative, new way to develop Airmen, the logistics community was quick to get on board.
Air Education and Training Command introduced the Continuum of Learning initiative to change the way Airmen learn by integrating education, training and experience throughout their careers.
Cooper explains how his team has been working towards this style of learning and notes that they plan to add a Logistics Readiness Officer Intermediate Course at Sheppard in April, 2018. This course will allow LROs and maintenance officers to work together and learn from each other during a mid-level point in their career.
Once becoming a field grade officer, the same Airmen will be given the opportunity to continue learning through computer based training and the Air Force Institute of Technology.
“This style of learning will be for officers and enlisted alike,” said Cooper. “The Continuum of Learning is a process we’ve been working on for a number of years and we’re already starting to see it pay off."
As the Air Force continues to increase manpower and innovate training methods, Sheppard’s 82nd Training Wing will remain front and center throughout the process with more than 60,000 Airmen graduating each year.
“I’m very proud of the men and women I’m seeing at Sheppard Air Force Base,” said Cooper. “They’re sharp, smart, and articulate and it makes me so happy to see the future of America’s Air Force is so bright.”