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AETC commander talks developing leaders at AFA '21

picture of Lt Gen Webb with quote

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, spoke at the Air, Space, and Cyberspace Conference sharing his personal perspective on developing the next generation of Airmen and Guardians, Sept. 22 in National Harbor, Md. (U.S. Air Force graphic / Dan Hawkins)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, spoke at the Air, Space, and Cyberspace Conference sharing his personal perspective on developing the next generation of Airmen and Guardians, Sept. 22 in National Harbor, Md.

As the AETC commander, Webb is dual-hatted as the force development commander for the Air Force and focused on a competency-based approach to developing the Airmen and Guardians we need.

The difference between the United States Air Force and our adversaries, Webb emphasized, is the trust placed in Airmen and NCOs, empowering them to adapt in an environment of strategic competition. 

“You can’t draw a picture of a multi-capable Airman, but it’s an Airman who understands commander’s intent, has an agile mindset, has harnessed foundational competencies, and therefore earns empowerment,” Webb said.  

Over the past 18 months, AETC has made strides in accelerating change amid adapting to the pandemic, but Webb insists there’s more work to be done. His focus remains on cultivating an environment of excellence through valuing and increasing diversity in the force. 

“The Airmen and Guardians who are in our force should be a reflection of America…all of which develop a force into the lethal weapon that we need it to be,” Webb said. 

Webb has held “Real Talks” over the last year, hosting live personal conversations with Airmen of various backgrounds online. What started in response to the initial racial disparity review for African-American males in service, has expanded as a platform for Webb and all Airmen to join in open conversations about diverse backgrounds, including race, gender and religion. 

While Webb is grateful for the Airmen who have been willing to share their experiences on such a public forum, he continues to encourage all leaders to hold small-group conversations, in a safe space and most importantly, to listen. 

“Are you really listening? Are your ears really open? And are you really being vulnerable to what Airmen are saying?” stressed Webb. “Because I can tell you, your Airmen are.” 

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