Air Force medical technical training students are among the Airmen in training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, now enjoying expedited privileges following the implementation of a new phase program there. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo Jr.)
by Airman 1st Class Jacob Corbin
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
1/13/2007 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNEWS) -- Airmen here in technical training are enjoying more freedom and responsibility as Air Education and Training Command transitions into its new phase program.
The new program, which took effect after Airmen returned from holiday exodus, became fully functional across Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 12.
"We want Airmen to experience what they'll experience at their first duty station and see if they can handle it," said Senior Master Sgt. Terry Neuharth, the superintendent of military training for the 82nd Training Wing.
The old program consisted of four phases gradually rewarding Airmen with more privileges as training progressed. The new version resembles the original four phases, but at a much faster pace.
"In basic you're all almost one person," said Airman 1st Class Lindsey Simpson, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief-in-training with the 362nd Training Squadron. "This kind of gives you the freedom of individuality. It makes it feel more comfortable and more like home."
For instance, it took Airmen 91 days to achieve the pinnacle of freedom in phase four. They now enter their final phase a mere 36 days after beginning training at Sheppard.
"Basically we took the old phase two out and moved everything to the left," Sergeant Neuharth said. "It gets them to the old phase four sooner."
Some of these more expedited privileges include being able to wear civilian clothes in student dormitories during phase one and being able to operate a vehicle in phase two.
The changes are already having the desired result. Airmen are pleased with the greater faith the Air Force is showing them and their ability to make responsible choices.
"The morale around the squadrons has gotten so much better. We all feel more like adults," said Airman 1st Class Aimee Zalenski, a fellow F-16 crew chief-in-training. "(Around) the squadron, everyone's getting closer."
Airman Zalenski said the greater range of privileges has allowed people who would not normally interact with each other socially, to do so.
Extended curfews and previously unheard of privileges are not to be taken lightly though. Airmen can still be "phased back" in response to questionable behavior.
"We're getting them into a more responsible role sooner," Sergeant Neuharth said. "They just need to know they're going to be held accountable for their actions."
(Courtesy Air Education and Training Command News Service)