KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Mississippi —
Sixty trainees arrived to the proof of concept Basic Military Training detachment at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, April 7, marking a historic moment for the Air Force’s training program.
This shift is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will allow the training pipeline to continue and help ensure the health and safety of trainees and instructors while also providing relief to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland’s training infrastructure.
"Wings throughout Air Education and Training Command are in a partnership to be part of the solution to continue our mission essential role to train Airmen and we are proud to be part of the plan to keep BMT going forward during our nation’s battle against COVID-19,” said Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander.
This is a contingency option and is not designed to be implemented longer than 180 days, but is designed to be sustainable for longer periods if required.
“We are deliberately developing options to disperse the delivery of BMT during contingencies to provide surge capacity and introduce agility in the training pipeline construct,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander.
BMT remains vital to renew the force and the delivery of air and space power anytime, anyplace and Keesler’s training mission is already armed with many of the facilities and procedures required to execute the BMT mission. This resulted in the introduction of Keesler’s new detachment, Detachment 5 of the 37th Training Wing.
“We have dormitories, medical support, classrooms, dining facilities, running tracks and workout areas,” said Blackwell. “But most importantly, we have a phenomenal team that’s excited to support this new concept.”
The trainees that will graduate BMT after six weeks will transition directly into technical training on Keesler Air Force Base or local training detachments such as the Gulfport Naval Training Activity.
Keesler Air Force Base has historically hosted basic training for the War Department and the Air Force, beginning in 1941, and tapering off after 1944, but carrying on until the sixties. However, Keesler Air Force Base has not seen the stand up of a basic training concept since World War II.
Keesler Air Force Base will take every measure to keep Airmen protected while delivering superior training. Detachment 5 has issued face cloth coverings to all BMT trainees and will observe all recommended guidance to ensure their safety.
“BMT is a weapon system that feeds every other weapon system across the service,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Hambright, Det. 5 commander. “The world is watching how the United States responds in this crisis and it is important to show that we will rise up to the challenge, against all odds, to ensure the safety and security of this nation. We will not falter and we will not fail.”