BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, Louisiana --
Four first sergeants assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, completed an immersion tour of Air Force Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, in December.
The objective of the immersion was to gain a better understanding of what Reserve Citizen Airmen entering service encounter and how those experiences impact their ability to complete the mission.
“Most of our first sergeant’s BMT experience was more than 15 years ago, “ said Master Sgt. Katilin Schaeffer, 307th Bomb Wing first sergeant and resiliency integrator. “In order to better connect with our members coming into the wing, we knew we needed to get a better idea of what BMT looks like today.”
It took several months for Schaeffer to organize the visit, but she said the effort was worth it. The group was able to spend considerable time with Air Force Military Training Instructors, or MTIs, and gain a deeper understanding of the rationale behind their training efforts.
That knowledge was necessary for the first sergeants to understand better how incoming Reserve Citizen Airmen adapt to the Air Force and how they perceive their service.
“I find myself telling people that your Air Force is not my Air Force, and it isn’t their Air Force,” Schaeffer said. “So, the best way we can get to know our people is to gain a better understanding of their experiences.”
Those BMT experiences are formed by training designed to meet new global pacing threats.
One of the most significant changes was removing Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, or BEAST, from BMT.
PACER FORGE — Primary Agile Combat Employment Range, Forward Operations Readiness Generation Exercise, replaced BEAST earlier this year.
BEAST taught Airmen how to fight against the global war on terror. PACER FORGE teaches trainees how to combat increasing threats from near peers and work within the Agile Combat Employment model.
Schaeffer said that change was just one of several that highlighted a faster-paced BMT environment than she experienced.
She explained that even injuries that used to sideline trainees for days and weeks no longer disrupt training. Instead of sidelining trainees, physical trainers help them heal while doing alternative exercises that sustain fitness gains.
“Now you aren’t a door guard for six weeks just because of an injury; there are other avenues to overcome the problem,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer explained that the immersion wouldn’t impact how the 307th Bomb Wing trains for the high-end fight.
She said the visit did reinforce the efforts of the 307th Bomb Wing’s Development and Training Flight, a program that prepares trainees for BMT.
“The MTI’s told us that Reservists seem ready to go when they hit the ground and they take on quite a few leadership roles,” said Schaeffer.
(Daigle is assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing public affairs office.)