AETC commanders meet, discuss way ahead Published March 4, 2008 By Justin Oakes 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- More than 100 Air Education and Training Command senior leaders gathered here to participate in the AETC Commanders' and Command Chiefs' Conference Feb. 25-29. The conference, held twice annually, provided an opportunity for Gen. William R. Looney III, AETC commander, and other AETC leaders to discuss a broad range of issues affecting the command and the Air Force. "These conferences have proven very successful," General Looney said. "One of the most important aspects of these meetings is the breakout sessions, which allow the various units to divide into groups for three to four hours at a time." The breakout groups, which include 2nd Air Force, 19th Air Force, Air University, Air Force Recruiting Service, and the command chiefs, used the sessions to receive feedback from field commanders to identify areas for improvement. "In the past two-and-a-half years, we've resolved approximately 50-75 issues stemming from our discussions," General Looney said. A variety of topics focused on AETC's mission of educating, training and recruiting Airmen. "We continue to set the gold standard for training," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Luzader, AETC command chief. "Our instructors are the best in the world and continue to get better." Training topics discussed included changes to the flying training syllabus, enhancements in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, standing up a Common Battlefield Airman Training course and increasing Basic Military Training by two weeks, which will include greater emphasis on combat skills training. Leaders also discussed recruiting issues. Chief Luzader said, "The Air Force's dedicated recruiters work diligently to recruit the best of the best in a challenging environment. New ways of reaching the Air Force's target audience have to constantly evolve." For example, AFRS is taking an active stance in Web-based outreach with the "Do Something Amazing" Web site. "Even with the challenges our recruiters face, we're doing fantastic," General Looney said. "We not only continue meeting our goals, but we get the right people in the right career fields." Another point of interest at the conference was the Air Force's educational needs. "The Air Force remains the premier educational institution in the military," General Looney said. Improvements to the Community College of the Air Force (the largest community college in the world), new online courses for enlisted Airmen to acquire their baccalaureate degree, online master's degree for officers and more language and cultural programs were among the main educational topics discussed at the conference. Also, commanders and command chiefs were updated on In-Lieu-Of training. "We are combat enablers," Chief Luzader said. "Every Airman comes through AETC for training, and we have prepared over 20,000 Airmen to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of our sister services filling In-Lieu-Of requirements." The AETC Whitepaper on the vision of Air Force education and training, a 29-page document describing the command's transition from current concepts to an evolving educational paradigm focusing on continuous learning, met with much discussion among senior leadership during the conference. One aspect of the plan emphasizes a more self-paced progression versus the populated schoolhouse/everyone progresses in unison method. "Within the next 10-20 years, I anticipate training will be very different from what it is today, and it will require not only a dedicated level of commitment but also a whole other approach to make this vision a reality," General Looney said. "It is imperative we understand the needs and expectations of the young men and women who will lead our Air Force in the future."