JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND --
The opportunity for an Airman to leave Basic Military Training fully-qualified on the M4 rifle is just one of the new tactics being implemented as part of the recent changes to curriculum centered on readiness and lethality, airmanship, fitness and the warrior ethos.
Trainees will see other changes to training beginning this summer, including more time spent on weapons familiarization, along with the additions of technology in the classroom, hand-to-hand combatives training with fellow Airmen and the embed of exercise physiologists in each squadron.
“What we want to do at BMT is to embrace the concept that says ‘we will train like we fight’ and these changes continue to help us do that,” said Col. Jason Corrothers, 737th Training Group and BMT commander.
As part of the initiative to phase out the M16 rifle, BMT is set to receive close to 9,000 M4 training rifles that Airmen will carry as part of familiarization training. After renovations to the combat arms range at JBSA-Medina Annex are completed, BMT will switch from the M16 weapon familiarization course to the M4 weapons qualification course.
“This acquisition will put M4’s in the hands of our trainees daily and will help them develop and improve their weapons handling skills, including the ability to assemble and disassemble the weapon system,” Corrothers said.
Trainees who do not qualify on the M4 will still pass BMT as long as weapon familiarization standards are met, Corrothers said.
Also starting in the summer, trainees will see a change in how the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response curriculum is presented as BMT will incorporate technology to create an interactive learning environment. The tablet-based approach will leverage both a podium instructor and digital media, which trainees can interact with for an immersive learning experience.
“This smart infusion of technology will provide an opportunity for more powerful learning outcomes going forward,” Corrothers said. “We think this provides a terrific platform to assess where else and how else can we be more artful in our approach to instruction moving forward.”
Later this fall, BMT is working to embed exercise physiologists in every squadron. These sports medicine experts will train permanent party staff and coach and counsel trainees to help prevent injuries, as well as aid in rehabilitation as needed.
“We are all in with fitness, but we won’t do it at the expense of that young man or young women whose family has shared them with us,” Corrothers said. “We are going to do it smart…we are going to do it right.”
In addition to embedded exercise physiologists, BMT has incorporated hand-to-hand combatives training into the curriculum.
“Combatives are an example of how we are trying to re-fuel our Air Force with warrior Airmen who feel proud to be a part of our Air Force and feels tested when they leave us, who are proud to wear the blue of our Air Force,” Corrothers said.
Since incorporating more physical fitness, Corrothers said the BMT attrition rate is down from 6.5% to 5.5% and credits the wise construction of the more challenging program.
Part of the construction included moving Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, or BEAST, to the final week of BMT, making it the final training event prior to graduation. This change allows trainees to use what they have learned throughout their entire time at BMT and apply it in a mock deployment environment, including simulated attacks and explosions.
“BEAST is the culminating event of BMT. As part of adding rigor to the exercise we’ve laid in additional obstacles along the way that force the team to work in both a mental and physical way to reinforce they are stronger together,” Corrothers said.