Ready for Basic Training
By Tech. Sgt. David Speicher, 175th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2009
BALTIMORE -- Newly enlisted members of the 175th Wing are going off to Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, better prepared thanks to a program instituted on base in April.
In the past, new recruits awaiting their first day of basic training drilled with the squadrons they would be assigned to upon completion of BMT. Their weekends were mostly spent observing other Airmen.
Now that time is spent learning about the challenges they will face in BMT.
The idea grew from a paper Lt. Col. Steve Benden, 175th Mission Support Group deputy commander, wrote for an Air War College course he was taking. The assignment was to write about something he could fix on his base.
He knew there were recruits drilling while waiting to go to BMT and he was aware that they were restricted in their duties. Knowing this, he felt there had to be a better way to prepare them before they left for basic training.
"We have an opportunity to take advantage of," said Colonel Benden.
The U.S. Air Force increased the length of BMT in November 2008. The increase of class length from six to eight weeks resulted in a longer delay for the start of classes. In a few instances recruits are waiting six to seven months before shipping out.
"We had an opportunity to teach them before they go to basic training," said Maj. Bernadette Maldonado, 175th Student Flight commander. Recruits are assigned to the student flight until completion of technical training.
Major Maldonado added, "Some students will go to basic training and assume a leadership role and possibly graduate as an honor graduate." She wants them to know they could be the future leaders of this base.
Major Maldonado said they are learning about Air Force core values, chain of command, rank structure and the Airman's creed. Each student has a handbook to study, they attend structured classes and they participate in physical training.
The physical training was an eye opener for some students. They now realize they need to be in shape to go to BMT.
PT also helps build cohesion, according to Major Maldonado. As she was observing PT one day, the students were running in formation. If one student fell out, they went back and picked that person up. They were learning to be wingmen. They were learning to help each other achieve their goals.
While marching with the recruits, Colonel Benden noticed that one individual was having trouble performing facing movements such as left face and right face. Two other students stepped up to help.
"They are building team unity and a sense of responsibility," said Colonel Benden. He noted the students were standing tall after learning the skills that would be thrust at them in basic training.
While practicing drill and ceremony each person is given opportunities to be element leaders and guidon bearer.
"This helps them gain self-confidence," said Colonel Benden.
Chief Master Sgt. Phyllis Aubrey, 175th Student Flight superintendent, observed a recruit getting ready to leave for basic training. "They see how much they will face at school. They know what they will work on in school."
"We want them academically, physically and mentally ready to go," said Major Maldonado, "They are our future, our wingman."