JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Lt. Col. Steve “Tiger” Briones took command of Detachment 24 from Lt. Col. Ryan “Motor” Riley during a change of command ceremony at the Kendrick Club at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph June 10.
Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, Nineteenth Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony and talked about the ground breaking progress within pilot training because of Det. 24.
“The reality is that Det. 24, Pilot Training Next, over the last few years has completely shaped not just our Air Force, but the Department of Defense and, in a lot of ways, shaped the commercial aviation sector and they have done it with a very small group of people. It’s amazing,” Wills said.
Wills spoke in detail about the contributions of Riley and Briones and the unique qualities required to lead Det. 24 during a revolution of transformation highlighting vision, intellect, humility and courage. He also spoke of his admiration for the constant advocacy for their people.
Briones was the Division Chief of Technology and Innovation for the 19th Air Force prior to taking command. He played an integral part in the support and development of cloud and immersive technologies driving Nineteenth Air Force Pilot Training Transformation efforts.
“I have been in this innovation turned transformation space of pilot training for almost five years now and I have been fortunate to work with many different kinds of people,” Briones said. “I often referred to this space as a land of misfit toys. While alone we may seem out of place, together we have made amazing things happen. The common denominators we share are passion, resilience and perseverance.”
Riley oversaw Pilot Training Next which began in Austin and later moved to JBSA-Randolph in 2019. Lessons learned from PTN were instrumental in Pilot Training Transformation and Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5, which has been scaled across the pilot training enterprise at Vance, Columbus and Laughlin Air Force Bases.
“Change is hard,” Riley said. “What makes our unit successful is having a good leadership umbrella, unit empowerment, and really smart, devoted people designing solutions and then building them.”
Riley will become a member of the Nineteenth Air Force staff where he will continue pilot training innovation and modernization efforts.
Det. 24 reports to the Nineteenth Air Force commander and is a military and civil partnership forged through industry, academia and government. The “Sabers” focus on flying training innovation and advances in rapid prototype development, export technologies and training methods designed to modernize Undergraduate Pilot Training. Det. 24 has also partnered with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Royal Air Force on a number of innovation efforts.
Currently, Det. 24 has been working on another pilot training mission called Air Mobility Fundamentals, or AMF-S. The simulator-only course occurs in a mixed reality training environment readying students for Formal Training Unit initial qualification training. AMF-S is poised to scale at all undergraduate pilot training locations. Additional efforts of Det. 24 include the Initial Operation Test and Evaluation of the T-7 and the continued research of biometric devices measuring human performance in flight operations.