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2nd Air Force Commander 'amazed' during Sheppard visit

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick speaks to Sheppard members during an All Call at the base theater Nov. 16, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. After his speech, Patrick answered general questions about training and the Air Force at large. (U. S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick speaks to Sheppard members during an All Call at the base theater at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 16. After his speech, Patrick answered general questions about training and the Air Force at large. (U. S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick receives a brief on the Contingency Electrical Power System by Airman Joshua Carpenter during his tour of the 366th Training Squadron Electrical Systems Apprentice Course, Nov. 16, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Patrick, Second Air Force commander, paid a visit to Sheppard Nov. 14-16 to tour the 82nd Training Wing and speak with Sheppard members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick receives a brief on the Contingency Electrical Power System by Airman Joshua Carpenter during his tour of the 366th Training Squadron Electrical Systems Apprentice Course, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 16. Patrick, Second Air Force commander, paid a visit to Sheppard Nov. 14-16 to tour the 82nd Training Wing and speak with Sheppard members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Second Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick paid a visit to Sheppard Nov. 14-16 to tour the 82nd Training Wing and speak with Sheppard members. The general was joined by Col. John Stokes, 2nd AF mobilization assistant to the commander, Col. Jamie Peoples, 2nd AF reserve advisor, and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, acting 2nd AF command chief.

Patrick has made several previous visits to Sheppard before becoming the 2nd AF commander, so this time he asked to see new aspects of the base, and that's exactly what they did.

"I was absolutely amazed at the things I saw between the (Crash and Damaged Air Craft Reconnaissance course) and (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) preliminary school that moved here," he said. "I saw how realistically we take those young fledgling apprentices and teach them what they need to do.

"I can't say there was just one thing I enjoyed, but the whole gamut of what we do here at Sheppard and the quality of the Airmen that we give to the war-fighter after they graduate," Patrick said. 

The general said each of the major installations has its own center of excellence and what he saw at Sheppard was an example of that.

"The training I have seen here at Sheppard over the past couple of days is absolutely vital to everything we do," he said. "Each of our major installations has its own center of excellence, and what I saw of the maintenance trainers, fuel training detachments and the base support people, mission support group and medical group -- they are all incredible professionals."

The 2nd Air Force is responsible for all the basic, technical and advanced training, but the mission extends beyond training.

"We also build partnerships," Patrick said. "We have a couple training groups that teach foreign nationals how to speak English, and some of those people come through Sheppard. We also help Sheppard men and women who are going to deploy on joint expeditionary taskings, to learn how to survive on the battlefield by helping them get through combat skills training at power projection points."

Patrick said effective military training is what makes our Air Force the best of the best.

"We are the greatest Air Force in the world," he said. "The reason isn't because of the airplanes we fly or the weapons systems we have, it's because of the men and women we have operating them. The backbone of our military is the young enlisted and officer members that come out of technical school and go to their first operational assignment and make a difference right away.

"Many of those Airmen are on the flight line maintaining aircraft that are going to deploy. Many are going down range and defusing (improvised explosive devices). Many of them are training maintenance apprentices how to maintain their specific weapons systems at the field training detachments, and all of that starts right here at Sheppard."

The way the Air Force trains begins with the career field managers deciding what tasks Airmen need to be trained in. Then the needs for training are funded, the curriculum is developed and the mission is executed.

In a time of limited resources, Patrick said one way to become more efficient is to enhance the technology in the classroom.

"That would give the students additional ability to either work with 3-D video images or hands on training devices," he said. "Some folks use the word efficiency to mean cut. If they want us to cut days out of training, all we can do is take the content requirements and push them to the first line supervisor and on-the-job-training, or add it to the career field development curriculum (CDCs) at the cost of not doing it in technical training.

"We are going to look for ways to be efficient in the classroom, but at the same time we are going to teach to the level the career field managers need us to teach to."

Before parting, Patrick said his message to the Sheppard Airmen was simply "congratulations."

"Whether you are supporting the mission, you are healing individuals or taking care of their children, or making sure that they live in a quality environment on the installation," he said. "Team Sheppard truly is an installation where people want to live, work, train, educate, recreate and do what is right for their country. And so I would say congratulations on what you have been doing and I look forward to additional outstanding effort from Team Sheppard in the future."

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