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Sheppard AFB hosts XR Working Group

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82d Training Wing

The 82d Training Wing hosted the Logistics XR Strategy Working Group for classes and an immersive tour here which highlighted benefits and best practices of using extended reality technologies in training the world’s best Airmen.

Instructors in multiple courses at the 82d TRW have embraced XR training, which includes virtual and augmented reality concepts, because it of the speed at which it can be updated to reflect real-world changes in equipment or procedures, allows experiential learning with non-destructive mistakes and can be used anywhere students are.

Maj. James Hedgepeth, 361st Training Squadron Commander, coordinated the event. Drawing on the concept of “accelerate, change, or lose,” he champions the use of XR in the learning environment.

“This gives me an ability to enhance my tactile learners with my learners that are visual,” he said. “This is an inclusive environment. In the past, we only focused on tactile learners. Now, we have a lot of Americans, especially the young generation, that want technology in their hands. So, implementing technology does not hinder my tactile learners, but it enhances my ability to bring a lot more students in and say, ‘Hey, you may not be that mechanic who learns best through hands-on instruction, but we have an option for you to be successful and become the best Airman that that we need and desire in our operational units.’  The 82d TRW has spent roughly $30 million in the past fiscal year on how we do XR/VR. This is a win for all the Airmen that are coming through this base.”

Working group members including Lt. Col. Jose Perez, Chief of the Advanced Concepts Branch, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, are collaborating with major commands and key offices to develop a logistics XR strategy that would reach beyond training and into the operational environment.

“The reason for this working group essentially is to take something that has had pockets of excellence, either at the 82d TRW or individual units or even in some cases specific MAJCOMS, and taking it out of the realm of an innovation to something that's collectively focused on across the maintenance and logistics enterprise, to reach the economies of scale to move it beyond and allow Airmen to be able to succeed with this technology as opposed to just leaving it for them to figure it out for themselves,” Perez said. “We want to be able to make it easy for them to be able to not only get access to it for what they need in a training or operational environment, as well as ensure that we can have the right capabilities to be able to be a to have access worldwide - whether we are sitting on an island in the Pacific or we are on the on the far reaches of the European continent.”

Brig. Gen. James Hartle, Associate Director of Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, views XR as an essential element for preparing Airmen to be fully mission capable and ready for future conflicts.

“This effort, as we look to modernize our training, brings in this level of technology that we're going to put in the hands of our Airmen to allow our Airmen to be trained better. We will be able to train them faster, they will have more proficiencies in those tasks, which then ultimately results in generating combat power in decreased timelines,” he said. “And through that, we’re able to take the fight to where we may need to in the future.”