GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maj. Gen. William Spangenthal, Air Education and Training Command deputy commander, visited here Dec. 1-2 to see how Airmen are modernizing today’s training to execute tomorrow’s demands while fighting through COVID-19.
The 312th Training Squadron escorted Spangenthal to the Department of Defense Louis F. Garland Fire Academy in a training firetruck. The academy is in charge of training the next generation of firefighters across all branches of the military for the DoD.
Upon arriving at the fire academy, Lt. Col. Michael McCourt, 312th TRS commander, gave Spangenthal a tour to demonstrate how the squadron is building the campus of the future, today.
“Most of our facilities that you see were built in the 90’s. We are in the process of renovating and building new trainers that are more advanced.” said McCourt. “We will have more trainers capable of accommodating multiple requirements for the various blocks of training that we conduct.”
Within the 312th TRS, there is also Special Instruments Training, a very small career field that performs a multitude of jobs in data analytics, always adapting to the needs of the operational Air Force.
“Our focus here is to give the students the closest thing to what they may experience in the operational career field,” said Master Sgt. Manuel Campo, 312th TRS instructor. “We have set up this lab with almost everything that a student would have access to at their first base.”
Throughout COVID-19 many members have had to adapt. Spangenthal was shown how Goodfellow is normalizing hybrid learning by attending a virtual class. He also heard about some of the challenges instructors faced while altering curriculum to make it virtual friendly, such as, ensuring all unclassified material is available to students online.
“Leadership understands that COVID has been a lot to deal with,” said Spangenthal. “Goodfellow adapted by adjusting courses, continuing training, and helping Airmen get out into the operational Air Force to do their jobs.”
During the visit, Spangenthal also visited front line warriors in the pandemic and saw them in action at the 17th Medical Group. The 17th MDG is focused on being prevention postured and response ready. The 17th MDG has been making sure the base continues to accomplish its mission of training and inspiring the future force by focusing on prevention and preparing for any outbreak.
Goodfellow trains more than just firefighters. Spangenthal witnessed how Goodfellow is also transforming Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance professionals through the continuum of learning. Goodfellow is changing the way students learn by adjusting courses to incorporate more virtual reality and hands on training.
Throughout all of the changes, updates, and overcoming challenges, leadership has not forgotten about Airmen’s quality of life. Spangenthal received a tour of a temporary dormitory that is a bridge to deliberate investment. He also toured dorms located at Angelo State University in San Angelo, which demonstrates the power of community partnerships. The first partnership agreement of its kind, this endeavor allowed housing for students in class on Goodfellow, freeing up rooms on base that need updating.
Leaders from ASU and Goodfellow explained various partnerships that are being explored between the college and base.
“Throughout COVID-19 Goodfellow has not just survived,” said Col. Andres Nazario, 17th TRW commander. “We as a team, as a base, and as a community have found ways to thrive during this trying time in the country.”