Dragon Corner: Officers transition into the force

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Whitney P. McCloud
  • 333rd Training Squadron
The mission of the 81st Training Wing is to train "The World's Best Airman - Training, Fighting, Winning!" In support of that mission, the 333rd Training Squadron mission is to -- train Airmen to be technically and operationally proficient warriors to dominant the cyberspace realm in support of our nation. As one might imagine, the latter just doesn't happen overnight and equally true is the fact that the term Airmen not only refers to our enlisted corps, but also includes our officers, or more specifically, the myriad of second lieutenant students receiving training at Keesler.

On average, the 333rd TRS trains and graduates 7,300 students annually. Approximately 5,300 of those students are enlisted and the remaining 2,000 are a combination of US and International officers attending one of the 27 courses our schoolhouse instructs. On any given day, there are more than 100 plus officers attending the Undergraduate Cyberspace Training schoolhouse (the premier schoolhouse for officer cyberspace operator's and enlisted defensive operator's initial skills training).

While a large portion of the 333rd officer students are prior-enlisted service members, there is a distinct portion of these lieutenants who are truly new to the military; and, the customs and courtesies therein. These are your Air Force Academy or ROTC graduates. Though listed in the regulations as accessions, you can most certainly consider these officers, only in practical terms, as non-prior service or students. Meaning, at times, they will miss a beat. Regardless of their status, all are students; the applicable rules of good order and discipline apply; and they are all here for a minimum of six-months which means Keesler is their first permanent change of assignment as an officer.

Moreover, roughly 20 percent of these new lieutenants arrive to Keesler married, with children and may be living on or off base near or next to you! So, how can you identify these student lieutenants? The quick answer is--it's not always intuitively obvious. You will not see them wearing those easily identifiable black backpacks that our enlisted students commonly wear and no, it's not required. You will not find them carrying Air Force Form 341s tucked in their uniform pockets, nor will you see them marching to and from training locations or during visits to the Keesler common areas such as the base exchange, commissary, post office, Sablich center or Chapel.

However, don't let this stop you from being positively inquisitive or intrusive. When you see a second lieutenant, start a conversation by saying hello, asking a question, offering advice, mentorship, vectoring or correction that at times they want; and dare I say it, require to "flip the switch" to what is and can be expected of a military member. This is a great opportunity to welcome them to the team and foster development which is imperative to their growth as future leaders.

Make no mistake, the integration of our way of life and Air Force core values of, integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do is not automatic. The same investment of time and effort used to push, promote and instill a higher order of being in our enlisted students is equally true of our officer students. You can and ought to expect the very best out of them and settle for nothing less.

Training is and does take a communal approach. Team Keesler is critical to the success of all of our Airmen, both officer and enlisted. There is no doubt in my mind, Keesler delivers the highest quality Airmen from what is irrefutably the best base in the Air Force. So, pass it on. Hooah!