Lackland Air Force Base, Texas –
More than 30 Air Force ROTC cadets from colleges around the nation are currently touring Lackland during a three-week training program to enhance the interaction between these future officers and the Air Force's seasoned noncommissioned officers.
As part of a training program called Operations Air Force, this is one of three groups visiting Lackland June 4 through Aug. 3. The cadets are going into their sophomore year this fall.
Along with the 32 tours and briefings scheduled during their 14 work days at Lackland, the ROTC cadets spend a few hours each day in mentoring sessions with NCOs in various units on base.
"The personnel here have been great to us," said Cadet Zachary Dones of Arizona State University's Detachment 025 who has been working with the 37th Security Forces Squadron. "We have learned a great deal about what characteristics NCOs are looking for in their leaders."
The cadets learn the intricacies of what it is to be an NCO in the career field of their current interest. They are taught about Career Field Education and Training Plans, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and many other NCO-related tools. The tours, briefings and mentoring sessions are designed to give the cadets an appreciation of what it is to be a professional NCO in the Air Force.
Cadet Dones said that aside from the mentoring sessions, the experience has also opened his eyes to other career options such as security forces.
"They learn customs and courtesies along with proper relations between officers and enlisted," said Major Gonzalez of the 318th Training Squadron. "Most enlisted have some college and associates, others have their baccalaureates and others have master's and even Ph. Ds, not to mention the years of experience and training the USAF provides them throughout their career."
This year, members of Lackland have been receptive in making this the best experience for the cadets, said Major Gonzalez.
"This is probably the most active and involved Ops AF to date. It involves a large span of operations and involvement," said Maj. Alexander Gonzalez. "They will have a First Sergeant Seminar and a Chief's Seminar where the cadets are briefed by a panel of the base's finest chief's and first shirts."
The three weeks of training and tours are packed with information for these future officers.
"Since this is a mandated Air Education and Training Command and HQ AFROTC training session, part of the three-tier Operations Air Force experience in their four years, there is little off time while they are here," said Major Gonzalez. "They do have the weekends where they stay in the local area and appreciate San Antonio's attractions like the River Walk and downtown."