JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Education and Training Command’s Strategic Action Plan, designed to accelerate change across the recruiting, training and education enterprise, was recently updated. The updates are in response to progress made on initiatives during the past year and to align with recently updated Department of the Air Force strategic guidance.
In announcing the updates to focus areas under each priority, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the commander of AETC and the force development commander for the Air Force, reaffirmed the First Command’s priorities, which remain fourfold: Advance force development, Enhance lethality and readiness, Transform learning, and Cultivate an environment of excellence. The general also explained that updated focus areas under these priorities will ensure the command continues to train and develop Airmen of character who are ready for a more competitive and dangerous international security environment than seen in generations.
“AETC’s priorities remain constant, and every Airman in AETC should be able to see themselves and how they contribute to our mission, vision and priorities in this strategic action plan,” said Webb. “Focus areas beneath each of the priorities, however, will evolve over time. In some areas we have gotten initiatives over the goal line. In other areas we have received new guidance from the Chief of Staff, and things have obviously changed in America and in our national security environment in the past year.”
The AETC Strategic Action Plan, first approved in the fall of 2019, was designed to support strategic intent found in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense and Department of the Air Force priorities. The document focuses the headquarters staff’s efforts and guides resource decisions to advance the command’s ability to perform its mission and vision of developing Airmen of character – the foundation of a lethal force.
The most-significant change to the focus areas aligned the Strategic Action Plan with the Air Force chief of staff’s strategic guidance to Accelerate Change or Lose and four action orders that Gen. Charles Q. Brown announced in August.
The AETC priorities and focus areas are:
Advance Force Development
As the Air Force’s Force Development command, members assigned to AETC are developing strategically-minded, agile and complex problem-solvers -- the Airmen needed to operate and dominate in joint, all-domain, multi-national conflicts with one or more major powers.
Within this priority, AETC Airmen are partnering with Headquarters Air Force to accelerate changes for the Chief of Staff’s Action Order: Airmen. Updated focus areas under the command’s priority of Advance Force Development include:
- Develop the Airmen We Need (DAWN) and Refine the Systems That Support Them
- Value and Prioritize Force Generators
"Force Development is mission-focused, Airman-centric and competency-based learning,” said Webb. “In the First Command, developing the Airmen we need aligns the right training at the right time with the right focus, while infusing agility in our workforce. We are also developing leaders who understand commander’s intent and mission-type orders, and then have the agility of mindset to execute their portion of the mission regardless of the disruptions in communications or their environment.”
To maintain the competitive edge over adversaries, ensuring top-quality Airmen are selected to train and educate the next generation of Airmen and Space Professionals is critical.
“Filling our force generation positions within the command with high-performing Airmen is a top priority,” said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, AETC command chief. “We have to ensure AETC is a command where people desire to be assigned, where everyone wants to work hard while they are here, and where they are recognized for their incredibly hard work recruiting, training and educating exceptional Airmen.”
Enhance Lethality and Readiness
AETC’s success in recruiting, training and educating exceptional Airmen is directly linked to Air Force and Space Force readiness. This priority recognizes the achievements within the First Command while fighting through the novel coronavirus pandemic. It also establishes goals to measure progress in programs that are important to readiness and continued operations in a more competitive and dangerous international security environment.
Updated focus areas under the command’s priority of Enhance Lethality and Readiness include:
- Drive and Validate Resourcing Decisions to Support Strategic Priorities
- Adapt the Command for Resilient Ops in a Disrupted Environment
Current and future budget pressures will require the most-difficult resource decisions in generations. Developing the Airmen the Air Force needs requires deliberate and effective investment in people and training and education programs. These requirements include programs and capabilities needed to deliver transformed, on-demand, on-command curriculum and the command’s weapon system -- training dormitories.
With an eye on the innovation displayed in training and education while fighting through COVID-19, AETC’s efforts are focused continuing to adapt the command to operate in disrupted and contested environments.
“We continue fighting through COVID-19 while navigating the risk-to-force and the risk-to-mission with operational readiness always in mind,” Webb said. “We have used the conditions brought on by the pandemic to accelerate change and transform how we train and educate the force.”
Aspects of AETC’s mission that were changed during COVID-19 also need to be resourced for future sustainment.
Transform the Way We Learn
The focus areas under the Transform the Way We Learn priority remain:
- Aggressively and Cost Effectively Modernize Education and Training
- Develop and Foster Strategic Relationships and Partnerships
AETC is continuing to invest in learning opportunities that allow Airmen to learn the way they live: connected, collaborative and agile, using high-quality interactive content available across multiple devices, on-demand, with self-paced, experiential, and multi-modal options.
“The game-changing decision for AETC was to move from the industrial-age model to learner-centered, modern training and education,” added AETC’s commander. “This affects every corner of our command, and our challenge now is to operationalize the transformation going on in every organization.”
Transforming the way the command develops Airmen and Space Professionals will require collaborating more effectively with military, industry, congressional, academia, and allied partners, to accelerate change from the force we have to the force required to succeed in a more competitive and dangerous international security environment.
Cultivate an Environment of Excellence
Updated focus areas under the command’s priority of Cultivate an Environment of Excellence include:
- Drive a Culture of Air Force Core Values, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Care for Airmen and their Families
“Achieving victory takes hard work, training, good equipment, and most importantly it takes people of strong character, driven by our core values of integrity, service and excellence,” Webb said. “We have the responsibility to arm our Airmen to out-think, out-perform, out-partner, and out-innovate any potential adversary. We do this with commitment to values, because military prowess and economic might alone are not enough. Our values and our character are our guiding beacons.”
Citing the ongoing unrest throughout the nation and growing awareness of racial disparities within society and the military, Webb passionately said conversations on diversity and inclusion should be happening at all levels of the command.
“Leaders in AETC need to remove barriers, promote mutual respect and encourage tough conversations in safe spaces,” said Webb. “These conversations are about national security, about readiness, about teamwork, but more importantly are about unity and at the end of the day, humanity. We should be talking about this every day in the First Command because we set the foundation for the entire Department of the Air Force.”
Caring for Airmen and their families also cultivates an environment of excellence. This includes ensuring safe, quality and well-maintained housing, access to quality primary and secondary education and advocacy for spouse employment and family medical needs.
Winning in the future requires innovation today. While the AETC Strategic Action Plan is reviewed and updated periodically, it remains focused on accelerating change needed to posture the command for future success.