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USecAF gets firsthand look at AETC’s values-based approach to foundational readiness

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  • By Capt. Allison Kirk

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited here Oct. 1-4, seeing firsthand how Air Education and Training Command ingrains dignity and respect throughout the force, and how the command implements a values-based approach to training and readiness. 

Jones served as an intelligence officer during her Air Force career and her professional experience spans over 20 years across Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and the United States between positions in security cooperation, partner engagement, social-cultural analysis and economic security, all shaping her approach to the strategic role she fills now as the 27th Under Secretary.

Jones began her visit spending time with Airmen, meeting with AETC leaders and an immersion with the Air Force Recruiting Service. 

“People asked why I chose to visit recruiting as part of my first trip in this position,” Jones told the AFRS team. “It’s because you are the frontline of our force,” emphasizing the vital role recruiters play in breaking barriers and reaching untapped potential to attract and access a diverse total force. 

“We don’t have the time or talent to waste,” Jones added while commending the team for achieving service-wide recruiting goals across all three components (active duty, guard and reserve) for the first time in five years. 

Afterward, Jones saw how AETC is transforming pilot training during a walkthrough of Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5 at Detachment 24, learning how the program incorporates immersive technology and new learning methods to achieve student proficiency. 

“I’m really impressed at what is being done here to develop the world’s greatest pilots,” said Jones after speaking with student pilots and learning how the scalable program removes barriers to pilot training by giving students early access to curriculum and ensuring quality remains job one. 

Jones also spent time with the Basic Military Training team at the 37th Training Wing, enjoying lunch with trainees, seeing how BMT accelerated change through COVID-19 to keep the training pipeline open in order to help maintain the service’s readiness, and learning how a culture of excellence starts at BMT. She thanked military training instructors for their critical role in creating an environment of diversity and inclusion at the start of Airmen and Guardians’ careers. 

Following BMT, Jones visited Detachment 23, where she received a demonstration on Technical Training Transformation. The T3 team showcased their work developing courses that feature updated technology, research-driven methodologies, and an adaptive, student-centered approach to learning and 24/7 access to educational content, all of which allow Airmen to progress at the speed of learning. 

Jones also visited the 59th Medical Wing and observed the COVID vaccination process, highlighting how JBSA is on path to complete mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Focused on care for Airmen and Guardians, throughout the trip Jones met with advocacy program leads from across the 502nd Air Base Wing, including leaders from family advocacy, chaplains, sexual assault prevention and response, women’s healthcare, and the child development center. 

“Today’s challenges won’t be solely solved with policy,” said Jones, seeking honest perspectives from the operational level.  “How can we remove roadblocks and empower the work you’re doing for our Airmen and Guardians, and their families, everyday?

“In my mind, we can talk ops and people in the same sentence,” said Jones. “AETC is the foundation of our force and I saw that throughout the  week - from UPT 2.5 to visiting with the care team.”

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