KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Mississippi –
For the first time since 1968, a flight of nearly 60 Airmen graduated Air Force basic military training outside of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Det. 5 marched across the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 15.
Due to safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler Air Force Base to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies.
“We are deliberately developing options to disperse the delivery of BMT during contingencies to provide surge capacity and introduce agility into the training pipeline construct,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander, when explaining the purpose of these changes back in March. “This will also help provide relief to the military training instructor staff and ease the strain on our BMT infrastructure.”
Tullos believes the continued training of Airmen while following safety precautions is necessary.
“These changes are part of our operational mindset to fight through COVID-19 and mitigate force health risks,” Tullos said. “We continue to carefully balance the need to deliver mission-ready forces to our operational commanders with the force health protection measures we must responsibly take to preserve the welfare of our families and the extensive network of communities across our nation we call home.”
Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, spoke about the significance of the graduation.
“We are experiencing a defining moment in history,” Webb said. “Thank you to the military training instructors, staff, and everyone that helped make this historic event possible in a moment’s notice. These trainees have proven they have what it takes to be an Airman by getting through this training.”
Chief Master Sgt. Julie Gudgel, command chief master sergeant of AETC, explained the versatility of Air Force training.
“We have created quality Airmen to represent our Air Force,” Gudgel said. “Keesler has made history. The Air Force has remained flexible through all of the challenges in our history, and what we have learned is that we can fight through this.”
All graduating Airmen from this proof of concept will continue their technical training at Keesler Air Force Base.