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AETC commander: Air Force staying ahead of learning curve

  • Published
  • By Dianne Moffett
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
The commander of Air Education and Training Command spoke about the future of Air Force learning at the Air Force Association's 2012 Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 23.

General Edward A. Rice, Jr. addressed Airmen and defense industry professionals on the Air Force's need to continue to adapt how the Air Force provides Airmen the tactical expertise, operational competency and strategic vision to execute the full range of Air Force missions.

"Training provides Airmen with the capabilities to answer questions. Education prepares Airmen to ask the right questions in the first place," Rice said. "To operate in the world as it exists today, with its increased constraints in budgets and increased pace of technology, the balance between training and education will shift and weigh more on education."

The Air Force has to adapt to an unprecedented change in technology, he said. More technology has been introduced in the last 25 years than in the previous 200 years.

"The Airmen we bring in today are of the millennial generation," Rice said. "They learn very differently than our previous generations. These magnificent, young people, with all their abilities, are fully capable of multitasking, are at home with new technology, and are very comfortable in the cyberspace world."

Rice said the Air Force must facilitate learning with less traditional classroom-based teaching and shift to learning with the full spectrum of tools today's technology can provide, including tablets that hold all class publications and manuals for each Airman, computer-based training and high-fidelity simulator training.

Virtual extended classrooms will provide more hands-on training and allow Airmen to learn at their own pace, the general said. If an Airman has a problem, they can login to a class chat room or seek individual help from an instructor.

"Sometimes the feedback you get from a computer simulator is more accurate than from an instructor," Rice said.

Increased use of technology will also increase the cost effectiveness of training, he said. The general cited the cost of flying operations for undergraduate pilot training as an example. The UPT price tag is lower than in previous years because of the use of high-fidelity training simulators, which lessen requirements for flight time and fuel.

"We must embrace the opportunity of technology to shape our future in terms favorable to the United States Air Force," Rice said.
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