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AETC leaders discuss changes

  • Published
  • By Justin Oakes
The Air Education and Training Command's senior leaders and spouses gathered at the Commanders', Command Chiefs' and Spouses' Conference here Oct. 15-19 to discuss issues that affect all aspects of the command. 

"Building Tomorrow...Part 5" was the fifth such conference hosted by Gen. William R. Looney III, AETC commander, and was designed to generate new ideas and address existing concerns among leadership. More than 20 higher headquarters policy changes resulted from taskers initiated from previous conferences, said General Looney. 

Topics discussed included AETC recruitment, training and education, plus the importance of communicating the Air Force story and the role Air Force spouses play. 

"For recruitment, we have to pull from a much smaller population. Only 25 percent of candidates across the country from ages 18-24 are eligible for military service," General Looney said. "However, we continue to make our recruiting goals and without sacrificing our standards - we have a great product and great recruiters." 

"Every Friday, we graduate 300-600 new Airmen in the U.S. Air Force," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Luzader, AETC command chief. "Airmen are not only a precious resource, they are a resource that must constantly be replenished. That is the mission of our recruiting force, and they do an outstanding job meeting the needs of our Air Force." 

Participants at the conference also emphasized continuing ways AETC provides relevant flying and technical training in the Air Force. One example is transforming Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training to make it more effective and efficient, which is significantly enhanced by the Introductory Flight Screening program. Another example is the opportunity to align Expeditionary Skills Training across training and education venues to develop deployment-ready Airmen instilled with the warrior ethos. 

Leaders also discussed the evolving educational needs of the Air Force and changes that better prepare Airmen to accomplish their mission. 

One of the most significant new programs is Air University's Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative, which provides a unique opportunity for enlisted Airmen to obtain their bachelor's degree. The ABC enables Airmen to apply their Community College of the Air Force degrees toward bachelor's degree programs through distance learning opportunities accessed through the Air Force Portal. 

"No matter where you're located, if you want to take the time, then advanced education is available to you," General Looney said. 

How Airmen communicate the Air Force story was another key topic during the conference. 

"How we communicate our story is incredibly important," Chief Luzader said. "We tell the Air Force story daily through interacting with the community. The individual Airmen has a significant impact on how America perceives our contribution to the defense of our nation. 

During the conference, spouses attended many of the same briefings as the commanders and command chiefs as well as others specifically tailored for them. 

"Our spouses play an important and critical role in our success," Chief Luzader said. "Spouses are able to open a line of communication that may not otherwise be readily accessible to the commander or senior NCO. Also, their perceptions and ideas help shape the ways we care for our families and Airmen." 

The conference was results orientated, Chief Luzader said. "We listened to the commanders', command chiefs' and spouses' concerns and ideas, and we challenge the headquarters staff to address each concern or initiative. Our goal is to do everything within our capacity to empower and support our wing commanders and command chief master sergeants."