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AETC civic leaders get up-close look at Joint Base San Antonio missions

  • Published
  • By Capt. Scarlett Trujillo and Master Sgt. Holly Patterson
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO- LACKLAND, Texas — Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, command chief of AETC, hosted civic leaders from across the command to provide an immersive perspective to AETC’s recruitment, training and education of exceptional Airmen, here Sept. 6-9, 2022.

Throughout the visit, Robinson thanked the civic leaders for taking the opportunity to see how missions across Joint Base San Antonio are advancing U.S. national security objectives through basic, technical and flying training; as well as learning about some of the challenges faced across the command.

“We are demonstrating how AETC lays the foundation for Air Force readiness,” Robinson said. “Strategic competition is our primary national concern, and China is the number one pacing challenge for the U.S. military. However, with empowered, educated, and properly trained Airmen we will outthink and out-perform our adversaries.”

Among the mission-set deep dives was Air Force Recruiting Service, which provided a showcase of tools utilized to educate prospective Air Force recruits. The showcase consisted of virtual reality flight simulators, which gave the civics an opportunity to take the skies, and forum to speak with recruiters about how the recruitment process uses innovative outreach events to inform, influence and inspire tomorrow's leaders.

Once the AFRS accessioning process and workload was understood, the leaders were then able to focus on the methods of training Airmen would likely experience along their journey to mission qualification and readiness, specifically across Joint Base San Antonio.  

The 558th Flying Training Squadron provided civic leaders first-hand experience flying with the AETC instructors who train all Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilots and sensor operators on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps. The group operated simulators to experience what it feels like to pilot unmanned aircraft after receiving an explanation of the mission capabilities the MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk continue to accomplish in support of combatant commanders. 

“Today’s Airmen are so impressive,” said Amy Shaw, representative for the 37th Training Wing at JBSA-Lackland, United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and the San Antonio Fiesta Commission. “I got to experience some new and different aspects of what they are learning and the tools that aid them throughout their career, and I’m happy to share that our nation continues to be in very good hands.”

At the Special Warfare Human Performance Support Group, leaders learned how members of the Special Warfare Training Wing leverage various learning techniques and human performance technology to ensure that operators graduating from the SWTW are prepared to solve the nation’s most complex problems under high-pressure situations in austere environments.

“I was absolutely impressed with the advances in technology and tools the Special Warfare Training Wing members use to prepare Airmen for their critical mission,” said Dr. Joe Leverett, a physician representing the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. “Experiencing it firsthand, now I can confidently advocate for how AETC trains, educates and produces exceptional Airmen.”

Among other advancements featured during the tour were the technology and specialists being leveraged to fortify Sixteenth Air Force and Inter-American Air Forces Academy missions. Each of these organizations reinforces the implementation of unique technologies and training to advance their objectives across cyber, intelligence, and international partnerships. 

In order to demonstrate the gravity behind Lackland’s title as “Gateway to the Air Force,” civic leaders witnessed an Air Force Basic Military Training graduation.

Beforehand, the team engaged with military training instructors, and toured the facilities the Air Force utilizes to turn civilians into Airmen in just seven and a half weeks.

“We are building the Air Force of 2030 by developing empowered, combat-credible Airmen ready to operate in the joint environment,” Thompson said. “We are making deliberate investments in AETC missions and people, which is critical to win tomorrow’s high-end fight.”

The tour wrapped up with a dinner and presentations, where Robinson further thanked the civic leaders for being ambassadors on behalf of the First Command, and the entire Air Force.

“Your support is critical in achieving many successes in our communities, and I thank you for being a valued teammate,” said Robinson. “Your engagement and participation are proof of the difference a civic leader can make at every level of command.”

Debi Graham, who represented the 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, received a pewter plate as an outgoing member, during the presentation and shared her experience with the group.

“This visit has truly been an unbelievable experience,” Graham said. “What the men and women of the U.S. Air Force do is truly inspirational. I’m looking forward to sharing the stories and lessons learned this week in my own community, and with the Airmen who work so hard to defend our great country.”