KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
For the first time, enlisted leadership from all five 2nd Air Force training wings met here for a superintendent training summit Oct. 30-31.
The summit was designed to allow training group superintendents to share missions and identify common challenges and best practices that could be implemented throughout the command.
“Although we all train, develop and inspire Airmen, we all do it in a different way,” said Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne Bass, 2nd AF command chief. “During my immersion it was pretty clear that we haven’t gotten all our training groups together to synchronize and create an opportunity where all the different training groups at all of our wings could sit down, cross talk and share the great things they are doing within their wings, but also to be able to share their challenges.”
Among the discussions of best practices were success stories using innovations such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The 82nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, upgraded its sheet metal structural maintenance training program and added new flightline simulators for its logistics officer course.
“The new simulators are going to give our officers more real-life scenarios they are going to experience on the flightline when they are generating sorties and getting aircraft in the air,” said Tech. Sgt. Rheanne Marlow, 363rd Training Squadron instructor supervisor.
Marlow explained the AR/VR system is also helpful for reducing training-related expenses, as well as improving safety conditions for sheet metal students. While in the simulator, students can practice painting and coating aircraft components without needing expensive materials and protective equipment.
“In the simulator they can actually paint, go around curves and change different nozzles and settings without actually doing it,” she said. “What this saves is hazardous material costs, safety and risk management. With AR/VR and getting new simulators, it’s going to cost money up front initially but then in the long term will pay off and we will be able to produce better Airmen, faster.”
According to Marlow, one of the benefits of the summit was the opportunity to learn both best practices and managing challenges facing today’s Air Force directly from other training group leaders.
“Everyone is low on manning and funding and it doesn’t look like that is going to get better in the future,” she said. “Sitting here with all these chiefs, I have learned so much and I can go back and motivate my guys. Second AF - they hear us, they understand our pains, these are the roadblocks and they are trying.”
Having leadership together for group discussion and problem solving is something Bass understands as a powerful learning tool.
“There is something good about getting people together face to face. When we can sit together and have meaningful conversations and dialogue, that’s the most empowering thing,” she said.
Common challenges expressed across the 2nd AF training wings were managing the mission with limited resources and modernizing policies to align with current Air Force conditions.
“We’re the smallest Air Force we’ve ever been yet our threat is global,” Bass said. “We’ve got an enemy who is pretty hungry and wants nothing more than to have a leading edge.
In today’s Air Force, our training and how we educate and develop today’s Airmen, must evolve,” she continued. We have got to create Airmen that can outthink and outsmart our enemy and that’s the bottom line. We have got to be smarter, faster and better than the enemy.”
With the success of the recent summit, the command chief plans to have another training group summit in 6-8 months to discuss the progress on issues raised and address any additional challenges.