Dragon Corner

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Paul Griffin
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Ever notice the sea of Airmen with black backpacks walking around the base? Of course, that's a rhetorical question since there are thousands of them. On the weekends, you may ask why some Airmen are in uniform with those big backpacks and some are not. The Airmen all know the difference, and it's summed up with three important letters. The Airmen are either in the initial transition period or the advanced transition period.

ITP lasts no longer than thirty days. It's a quick transition that prepares them from basic military training to the continued mindset of no longer being a civilian, but a valued member of the Air Force.

Airmen in ITP status cannot buy, consume alcohol or tobacco products, or possess them. If you see an Airman on base in uniform with a big black backpack, he/she is likely in ITP status. The only area where civilian attire is authorized is in their dorm room and they are not allowed to operate or ride in a privately owned vehicle or go off base unless by exception.

According to AETCI 36-2216, "Airmen must successfully complete two uniform/room inspections and display knowledge of the unit mission, academic excellence, and core values."

ITP is completed when military training leaders sign the Airman's record. They've met the requirements listed above, and were briefed by the training wing commander. Most transition smoothly into ATP.

ATP provides the Airmen more freedom, to include wearing civilian clothes, and leaving the base but they're also given requirements, that if broken, the group commander can choose to put them back into ITP, and for serious issues, an Airman can be put into a remedial transition period. These phases are critical for the commanders since teaching personal responsibility and wingmanship are key to the squadrons' success by preventing problems before they arise.

What is critical is the culture commanders are changing. Most Airmen come from hardworking families who taught them good values. We seek to continue highlighting those positive values, but also spotlight where the Air Force is re-vectoring its efforts in alcohol abuse and sexual assault prevention. Each squadron commander briefs new arrivals on their first day. We push the Airmen to own prevention by getting involved.

When they see something wrong, we ask them to put individual responsibility into practice by telling their fellow Airmen when they've had too much to drink and that it's time to get home safely before there's a problem. We also tell them to stop offensive jokes told in the classroom when the instructor is out on break.

The heavy lifting is done by our instructors in the classrooms and our MTLs in the dorm areas. Every spare minute is used teaching core values. It's amazing to watch a junior MTL or a young instructor personalize a story to get the Airmen to think differently. I've also witnessed our seasoned prior service students take the time to encourage our new Airmen how to get involved everyday fighting alcohol abuse and preventing sexual assault. Our older instructors give them wise advice not to ruin their career before it starts over something foolish or criminal.

It's no surprise alcohol contributes to sexual assault problems, and we're fully committed to making the cultural change a reality. No alcohol is allowed until every Airman understands responsible alcohol use, and not a drop is allowed if they're under 21 years old.

All new Airmen must demonstrate something positive, like helping with base beautification, to indicate to their MTLs they understand our core values. Those first thirty days are critical as we're not only teaching Airmen their wartime skills, we're taking every opportunity to give them the skills necessary to prevent alcohol misuse and sexual assault before becoming a part of the operational Air Force.