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Training Airmen, embrace the responsibility

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Training Wing's primary mission is to provide students with the military and technical training required to ensure our Air Force remains the most technically proficient, best educated and best trained Air Force on the planet.

As superintendent of the 335th Training Squadron, I have the honor and privilege to work alongside military training leaders, instructors, training managers, career development course writers  and training specialists who are dedicated to delivering the highest quality training to our Airmen.

I truly admire what they do every day.

The responsibility that comes with serving in these roles is truly inspiring. These professionals are charged with preparing our newest Airmen to enter the operational Air Force. Our faculty is entrusted with the well-being of America's sons and daughters. As mostly junior noncommissioned officers, they shoulder an important part of Keesler's mission, and they do it amazingly well.  

As a former instructor, I will admit that I did not fully appreciate the importance of my job. Don't misunderstand; I loved instructing and I gave everything I had each day to teach my students to be technically proficient. I derived personal satisfaction from teaching a difficult concept and sharing in the excitement of the student who had just learned something new about their future job.

That was fun stuff! 

However, if I could do it over again, with what I know now, I would approach it differently. I now understand it is important to inspire Airmen to learn and to grow both technically and professionally.

We must mold our Airmen into the image of a military professional. We cannot be satisfied with teaching the job alone. We all share the responsibility of teaching our students Airmanship principles as well as technical skills because they will need both skillsets if we expect to continue to be the most powerful Air Force on the planet.

Just as we must continue to improve upon our technical and military training curriculum, we must also do a better job of weaving in meaningful training designed to teach our students what it means to be an American Airman. We have to inspire them to be great, innovative and embrace the responsibility they have to continue to move our Air Force into the future.

Air Force leadership recognizes this is a tall order, and this is a major reason why only the best Airmen are vectored to these positions.

It takes great Airmen to train great Airmen. It is important that we not only teach our curriculum, but also forge connections and earn the trust of our Airmen. The Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III has challenged us to tell our Air Force stories, and I believe this is especially important here in the 81st TRW.  These stories inspire Airmen to be their best--they love hearing your story.

My challenge to the men and women serving here at Keesler is to embrace the role you have in developing our Airmen. I would argue that you will never have a more important job than the one you have right now-- shaping the Air Force future.