Mold, mentor Airmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steven Mullins
  • 338th Training Squadron

As most at Keesler know, our wing's primary mission is to train Airmen. This training is two-fold: we teach Airmen the technical aspects of their new jobs and we teach them how to become professional Airmen. We clearly articulate the expectation to perform in a manner that is consistent with Air Force standards.

This is a very important task that comes with many challenges, such as recognizing that social media is the primary method used by today’s Airmen to communicate; as such, emphasis is placed on ensuring Airmen understand how to avoid inappropriate conduct on a multitude of social networking platforms. However, there is another, less technical piece to the mission of training our Airmen, and this task does not reside solely with those assigned to the 81st Training Group, this critical task falls upon all of us.


The majority of our students are non-prior service Airmen, Marines and Sailors, and for many, Keesler is the first duty location where they are able to observe operational units in action. I use the term operational because Keesler's mission also includes an active airfield and one of the Defense Department's most respected medical centers. No matter if you're assigned to the 81st TRG or another unit at Team Keesler; please know we all have an inherent role in technical training.

Within the 81st TRG, we have more than 800 instructors and military training leaders who are trained and assigned to develop approximately 2,000 Airmen on a daily basis. Again, we train these Airmen for their new jobs and we're charged with molding and mentoring them into professionals. This "molding and mentoring" is where everyone at Keesler has a role as a "Tech Trainer" and where the training group needs your help.

As I'm sure you've seen, student Airmen are everywhere on base. You'll see most marching to and from their classes or to various other locations. You can tell who they are by the black backpacks they carry or by the overly concerned look on most of their faces as they attempt to navigate the base by foot.

While they're out and about throughout the "operational" part of our base, please know that these new Airman are sponges . . . they see and hear everything we do. If an Airman is taught one standard, but witnesses it not being applied, that carries over into all aspects of their decision making process. The Airmen start to pick and choose what they perceive to be the enforceable guidance and what is not. Bottom line: it's hard to teach and hold students to a professional standard if we as permanent party members are not adhering to the same standard.

Our Air Force core values are an excellent guidepost regarding these standards and the value of integrity is a major component. However, unlike saying and doing things right when no one is looking, we all must strive to ensure we're saying and doing the right things because we know students are watching. From the moment you leave your car to enter your work center, know that a student is most likely watching you. When you're out to lunch on base, know that a student is most likely sitting next to you hearing your conversation. In either case, are you doing and saying the right things?

The men and women of the 81st TRG are working hard to develop professional Airman and these same Airmen will soon arrive at your work centers here or at your next assignment.
Which Airman do you want showing up? Here are four ways you can help:

-Wear your uniform properly

-Practice proper customs and courtesies

-Set the tone of dignity and respect throughout the base

-Professionally correct those who aren't following the three bullets above

Everyone at Keesler has a role in molding and mentoring our student Airmen during their training here. Help us to help you by being a "Tech Trainer" and be the role model we're trying to teach our Airmen to become.