San Antonio Express-News
February 4, 2006
More Down-To-Earth Training By Air Force
By Sig Christenson, Express-News Military Writer
If today's airmen found a silver lining beyond the predawn 5-mile
marches of basic training at Lackland AFB, it might be that the whole
miserable experience lasted only 6 1/2 weeks - the shortest of any service branch.
So much for silver linings.
Starting next year, Air Force trainees will endure an additional two
weeks of training designed to make things tougher and more realistic - right
down to their own personal M-16, officials said Friday.
"Extending basic military training will produce more lethal and
adaptable airmen," said Gen. William R. Looney III, head of the Air
Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB.
The realities of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where every soldier,
sailor, airman and Marine is a rifleman facing an enemy on a 360-degree
battlefield, have transformed basic training across the services.
Ground combat fundamentals are the heart of an increasingly rigorous
training doctrine for all military services.
When the new Air Force training begins in fall 2007, all four services
will conclude boot camp with an extended final exam that tests endurance,
skill and mental fortitude.
The evolution of Air Force training isn't only about push-ups, sit-ups,
2-mile runs and marksmanship. The new course, which still remains
shorter than the Army, Navy or Marines, aims to create a new state of mind
for a service that's technical and often far from the front.
"We're not trying to make every airmen into an Army infantryman, but
we're trying to make them more expeditionary so they can go into a conflict,
protect themselves and protect their wingman," said Brig. Gen. Mary Kay
Hertog, chief of Lackland's 37th Training Wing.
Enlistees still will spend just one day on Lackland's firing range. But
they'll get what she called a "demilitarized" M-16 rifle on the second
day of training that they can clean, break down and reassemble - but can't
They won't get hand-to-hand combat training or be taught to bayonet
enemy combatants. They will, however, learn to act as a defense force and
get extensive training on basic battlefield first aid, including how to stop
bleeding and take wounded troops to safety.
The tougher training isn't new. Dubbed the "chair force" by some critics
for its relatively light physical conditioning standards, the Air Force in
1999 introduced "Warrior Week" to its basic training curriculum.
The idea was to prepare airmen for service in troubled, austere locales
where soldiering skills make the difference between life and death.
The Air Force last year veered off from time-honored traditions such as
the meticulous folding of T-shirts, shorts and socks and edged toward a
greater combat focus.
A big change in the new training program, which will include a $28
million basic expeditionary skills training exercise area, will be the
of Warrior Week. In its place will be BEAST - Basic Expeditionary Airman
Skills and Training Exercise, to run five days during Week 6 of boot camp.
Airmen will defend a mock base night and day from an opposition force as
part of the exercise, Hertog said.
Forward operating bases in Iraq, including the country's largest U.S.
Air Force installation in Balad north of Baghdad, often have been hit by
mortar rounds since the occupation.
"There really are no front lines or rear areas," said Andrew Krepinevich
Jr., a former aide to three defense secretaries who now heads the Center
for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "This notion of sort of a World War
II environment where you had these air bases well behind the lines, that
really doesn't square anymore in a world with al-Qaida, Iraqi insurgents and
Though much of the extra training time will emphasize soldiering skills,
the Air Force will add sessions on sexual assault reporting and suicide
prevention, and will continue one on the service's history and heritage.
Efforts to reverse sexual harassment incidents, which occurred at the
Air Force Academy and some AETC bases, come from the top. Gen. T. Michael
Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, has vowed to "provide a workplace
with dignity and respect, and a safe environment for our people to serve
The primary focus, though, will be grafting more of the infantryman's
mentality on airmen.
if they're not careful its almost going to be like joining the military.
last time an article was posted about this we had endless fun with the paragraph that described the lifelike non-firing replica M16 the recruits would be issued.
It's a far cry from my Air Force, back in the day when the enlisted guys stayed home and sent the officers off to fight.
theres an old joke about that. it lists each service with the 0-4 patting the E-4 on the back and saying "give em hell son" and the last is the air force where the E-4 gives the O-4 a thumbs up and says "give em hell sir" my favorite by far is the definition of "secure a building"
attack and destroy the building, pose for pics on the rubble
cordon off the area and call in re-enforcements
turn off the lights and lock the door
sign a 3yr lease with option to buy
I can hear the crying now,, booohoooo
I remember thinking when I bought my first AR, I shot more rounds my first trip to the range just sighting in and having fun than I fired in 8 years, 1month,11 days,11 hours,42 minutes.... not that I was counting mind you!I wonder why they just don't give the trainees a real weapon to carry around- it HAS been done before! I remember as an aircraft mechanic being told "You are warriors first, maintainers second!" Then we'd deploy somewhere and ask if we were being issued weapons- yeah right!