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NEWS | Oct. 28, 2011

Family, training priority for new 37th TRW command chief

By Mike Joseph 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

The new 37th Training Wing command chief master sergeant believed the Air Force had basic military training right when he left Lackland in 1989.

Returning 22 years later as the wing's top enlisted Airman, he uses one word to describe today's BMT.

"Awestruck," said Command Chief Master Sgt. Craig Recker, who spent his first five years in a personnel squadron.

"When I left here in '89, I thought we had it right. I look at basic training today and say, 'We're doing better than I ever thought we could,'" said Recker. "Today's trainees are graduating ready to go to war; I graduated ready to go to personnel school.

"Our Airmen today, we could pluck them out of BMT and send them off to expeditionary operations and they would succeed," he said. "Basic training today is more relevant to what we need in our Air Force than when I graduated in 1984."

Reaching out to Airmen and their families is also significant to developing today's Airmen, and it's a priority for senior leadership at the 37th TRW.

Emphasis on the Key Spouse Program and meeting with the spouses of deployed Airmen are key elements toward that endeavor, said the chief.

"We want their feedback," Recker said. "I've found you get more ground truth from asking a spouse rather than a military member because we're all Type-A personalities - focused on the job.

"I know this sounds generic, but I really hope to just make a difference," said Recker. "Colonel Axelbank (Col. Eric Axelbank, 37th Training Wing commander) and I know Airmen are working hard, and we want to take care of them. I know that's not always going to be easy, but the boss (Axelbank) and I care. We're certainly trying to make a difference."

The chief is also focusing on enhancing the wing's vision: "The Training Standard of Excellence." It's important, he said, to create additional efficiencies as the fiscal environment becomes more constrained.

"We're looking at every facet of how we do training today, and on what we can do to make it more efficient," said Recker. "How do we continue to deliver that world-class training without the resources we've had in the past? I think that's one of our biggest challenges now.

"We're going to spend our money where we get the most bang for our buck. We keep growing mission sets, and we're looking for ways to become more efficient because we're not going to see any more money in the near future," he added.

Recker's message to the enlisted corps - "Enjoy what you're doing." It's a message delivers to young Airmen everywhere, and a conviction he's lived by throughout his Air Force career.

"When I put on my uniform every day, I have to pinch myself," he said. "I can't believe I'm allowed to not only represent my country, but also to do the great things we do each and every day.

"I can't think of anything I'd rather do than this, and I thank God He's allowed me to serve this long (27 years). I just can't imagine anything outside of the Air Force that's as much fun."