Air Force top officials visit JB San Antonio for first combined trip

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kayshel Trudell
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

For their first trip together, the Air Force’s top three officials visited Joint Base San Antonio, Aug. 20-21.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett was accompanied by newly sworn in Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass to take a closer look at operations across JB San Antonio during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JB San Antonio was the ideal venue to witness missions at the air base wing, basic military, technical and flying training, with a final stop to learn more about the Sixteenth Air Force’s (Air Forces Cyber) cyber mission, under Air Combat Command.

The tour included visits to the 12th Flying Training Wing at JB San Antonio-Randolph and the 37th Training Wing, 59th Medical Wing and 502nd Air Base Wing at JB San Antonio-Lackland to highlight how members at both locations are finding innovative solutions to continue to successfully execute the training mission during a global pandemic.

“From the moment recruits step off the bus at (JB San Antonio-) Lackland, the Air Force core values permeate their experience,” Barrett said. “America’s military edge is derived from the discipline and professionalism of these exemplary service members.”

During their first day at JB San Antonio-Randolph, Barrett, Brown and Bass were provided an update on Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5 at the 559th Flying Training Squadron. While there, the senior leaders met the first 11 student pilots enrolled in the program.

“Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5 is the first step in our effort to modernize how we train our pilots to meet current and future threats,” said Col. Scott Rowe, 12th FTW commander. “UPT 2.5 scales the four key lessons learned from Pilot Training Next and innovation efforts across the pilot training enterprise through the use of immersive technology, seamless access to content, student-centered learning, and quality instruction.”

In the flightroom, officials took a closer look at immersive training devices and saw the benefits of a student-centric learning and technology-focused environment. UPT 2.5 began in mid-July in San Antonio and at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

On day two of their visit, the distinguished trio had an immersion at JB San Antonio-Lackland. Members of the 37th TRW highlighted how personnel train and develop resilient Airmen to win, innovate and grow.

“Our strategic and global environment has changed; however, the constant is our people,” Bass said. “Airmen are our most lethal weapons system and the competitive edge we have over our adversaries.”

During COVID-19 operations, about 12,000 trainees graduated the Air Force’s basic military training, with only 3% of recruits being delayed and no trainees leaving the pipeline because of COVID-19.

“During the last six months, this wing has completely transformed the way it organizes, trains and equips to meet pipeline requirements,” said Col. Rockie Wilson, 37th TRW commander. “We continue to cultivate a spirit of Airmanship by safeguarding our team’s energy and morale and leveraging technology to create a COVID-19 safe campus. We remind our adversaries daily that the Air Force training pipeline remains open and we are not only fighting through but are excelling during this pandemic.”

At the Pfingston Reception Center, the trio addressed Airmen from across JB San Antonio, and Brown officiated a reaffirmation of the oath of enlistment for Airmen who graduated BMT the day prior.

“Thank you to the Airmen for volunteering to join our long blue line to defend this nation, and congratulations on your recent graduation yesterday,” he said to the 300 Airmen who reaffirmed their other with the Air Force chief of staff. “Thank you to the cadre and leadership teams for preparing these graduates to live, learn, and lead as Airmen. Secretary Barrett, Chief Bass and I purposely decided where we want to visit on this first trip — and there’s no better place than San Antonio to look at how we develop leaders. The Air Force starts leadership development from the first day Airmen walk into work.”

Reid Clinic and COVID-19 operations were highlighted next. Medical professionals at the 59th MDW partnered with the 37th TRW during the early onset of COVID-19 and implemented detailed procedures to screen and monitor newly arrived recruits. Their continued support of force health-protection measures ensures trainees and cadre can safely continue fighting through COVID-19 and continue completing the mission.

After the medical wing, the leaders received a brief about operations at the Gateway Villas to better understand restriction of movement, quarantine and isolation procedures.

During a working lunch, Barrett, Brown and Bass hosted diversity and inclusion sensing sessions with Airmen. The sessions provide senior leaders the opportunity to hear firsthand the concerns and views of Airmen on race relations in the Air Force.

The trip culminated with Barrett, Brown and Bass touring facilities and meeting members of Sixteenth Air Force.

While visiting Headquarters Sixteenth Air Force, Barrett, Brown, and Bass met with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber, information operations, electronic warfare, and weather Airmen who demonstrated how the Numbered Air Force integrates and synchronizes information warfare capabilities to produce outcomes in the information environment.

The tour of the Air Force’s information warfare NAF included discussions of the organization’s unique capabilities, global perspective, and authorities that are integrated and converged on global kinetic and information targets in support of the National Defense Strategy.

A global NAF that also serves as the service cyber component to U.S. Cyber Command with support to U.S. European Command, U.S. Space Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Transportation Command, the Air Force leaders also saw a demonstration from Airmen who operate and defend the Air Force information networks against external threats, a demonstration from an offensive cyberspace operator, and they gained insight into ongoing operations to defend U.S. elections. Additionally, they heard from Airmen who provide ISR support to the U.S. Space Force.

Finally, the Air Force’s senior leaders learned about an initiative called, “Listen, Learn, Lead,” a Sixteenth Air Force commander-led program aimed at getting to the root of bias and then leaning into meaningful change through candid, honest discussions. The facilitator-supported initiative was the pinnacle of the visit, followed by Barrett awarding several IW Airmen with the Secretary of the Air Force coin.

“As the information warfare arm of the U.S. Air Force that takes the conflict in the information environment to the front lines, this visit is incredibly important,” said Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, Sixteenth Air Force commander. “That the secretary, chief and chief master sergeant of the Air Force came here to show their support for our innovative, diverse and empowered Airmen, is a testament to our leaders’ care for our people and their role in protecting and defending our great nation.”

The two-day immersion demonstrated to the Air Force’s top leaders just how effectively teams across the JBSA community are maintaining mission effectiveness, conducting daily operations with health and safety at the forefront and ensuring our Air and Space Forces are always ready to answer the nation’s call.

“The success of the Gateway Wing is a strategic win for our nation and our Air Force,” Brown said. “The wing’s continuation of training under COVID-19 conditions has required a team effort and military training instructors have been at the forefront of that success. I’m extremely proud of everyone who ensured we were able to continue to keep the pipeline flowing and ultimately ensure military readiness for our air and space recruits.”