Career field managers, AETC improve Keesler AFB training environment

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ryan Crane
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The 81st Training Group hosted 31 career field managers affecting more than more than 27 career fields during the Career Field Manager Conference at Keesler Air Force Base, Feb. 6-8.

The CFM Conference is designed to improve partnership, leadership and student learning for the technical training provided at Keesler AFB.

The conference, which was established in January 2018, was meant to fill the communication void between the schoolhouses and the CFMs, who typically work with Air Education and Training Command staff and more formal processes at the headquarters level. This conference pulls them together to talk directly to the commanders and instructors who are developing the Airmen for their career fields.

“Communication typically happens point to point between the CFMs and the training entity,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Arnott, 81st Training Support Squadron commander. “This CFM conference allows us to bring all TRG associated CFMs and puts them in the same room with our leadership. Here, they can share common concerns across all schoolhouses and career fields.”

The conference advances the Continuum of Learning initiatives established in AETC and at Keesler by evolving the relationship between AETC and the CFMs, Arnott said.

Conferences like these aim to improve the learning environment for students and advance the Air Force’s delivery methods for the life-long learners of the 21st century.

Issues discussed revolved around breaking out of the mold training has operated in for decades. The attendees and speakers also talked about how career development courses, which Airmen begin as part of their upgrade training at their first assignment, might not be meeting the needs of the modern Air Force.

“The Air Force takes on average 18 months right now to adjust curriculum in the career development courses,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, during a discussion at the conference. “If the new Airmen who are entering the Air Force now have a question, it takes them about 18 seconds to Google the answer to it. They don’t understand the ‘we will get to it eventually’ mentality and it starts to frustrate them. This is not the world they grew up in.”

This year the main topics of discussion were the blended learning approach to training, advancements in cyber training, advancing the technical training enterprise and augmented and virtual reality as training options.

The conference isn’t just a venue for improved communication between the schoolhouse and the CFMs,it’s also a venue for training headquarters personnel to share new information at the same time with all parties.

“Now we also have a place for AETC to come and pitch the latest at their headquarters and Second Air Force level,” Arnott said. “Now all entities can come learn together and focus on the future for Airmen training here at Keesler (AFB).”

The conference also allowed for breakout sessions between schoolhouse commanders and CFMs to discuss specific concerns and expand on learning innovations being developed at the 81st TRG.

“The relationship between the CFMs and AETC all the way down to the schoolhouse level need to be clear on the shared vision and what the CFMs want out of their Airmen,” Arnott said. “And they need to have the information required to make those improvements on a systematic level at the schoolhouses.”