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Home : News : News
NEWS | Aug. 26, 2014

MTI Corps impresses new BMT commander

By Mike Joseph JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

It hasn't taken long for the unwavering commitment and dedication of the Military Training Instructor Corps to catch the attention of the 737th Training Group's new commander.

"What these MTIs are doing day in and day out - I'll be honest, some days I'm just in awe of what they do," said Col. Michele Edmondson, who took command of the 737th TRG at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in early June. "Their commitment is unbelievable.

"It's not a job to them," she said. "It's not come to work and punch your time clock. They are absolutely committed to every single individual trainee in their flight. To them it truly is about making sure these trainees, who we call Airmen after 8½ weeks, really embody what we all embody as an Airman in the United States Air Force."

Edmondson said the MTI Corps infuse intangible values into trainees that go beyond just teaching them how to march, physical fitness or academics.

"To the MTIs, it's about instilling in their trainees the same values they have," she said. "The MTIs are incredibly proud of those values and to watch how attached they get to make sure every trainee in their flight succeeds, it's really moving. They are committed to these trainees - every single one of them."

"The Military Training Instructors don't lose the human element even though it could be like a cookie-cutter operation. Every individual is a new Airman to them."

Edmondson said she was impressed by the number of leadership classes MTIs receive while assigned to BMT. An MTI, she believes, will leave JBSA-Lackland prepared to be better leaders in our Air Force.

One of her goals is to take care of the MTIs and their families. In order to accomplish it, Edmondson said it would require continuing to build trust between BMT leadership and the MTI Corps.

"I'm really focused on making sure the MTIs know just how much I and the rest of the BMT leadership team appreciate what they're doing," Edmondson said. "We care about them, we care about their families and we want their families to know we care."

"I want to make sure they have time with their families and that when they leave here after this hard, demanding job that they still have a great family life. We've got to take care of them - they deserve it."

"I think the first step is to establish a trusting relationship with the MTIs. They have to trust that I'm sincere and that I want to take care of them. I think that comes from demonstrating to them that we're all focused on the same goal--training the best Airmen!"

"We're also evaluating some key programs and processes to make sure the ownership falls at the right place in this organization. We've got several working groups already set up for this, to put the focus back where it needs to be in some cases. We need to demonstrate to the MTIs that we trust them. They're amazing NCOs and senior NCOs, the finest Americans wearing the uniform."

She emphasized that she is ready to help the MTI Corps move forward from the misconduct uncovered in 2012.

"I think this group should be known for training the best Airmen the Air Force has ever seen," Edmondson said.

"When anybody in the Air Force or the general public talks about basic military training, our legacy should be the phenomenal Airmen that we send the Air Force. I want anyone who sees an NCO or senior NCO wearing the campaign hat to say, 'Wow! That is a phenomenal American;' to look at them in awe and with respect for what they do for our Air Force. That's what people should know when they see the hat, that should be their first thought."

Edmondson came to JBSA-Lackland after leading the 381st TRG at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., for the past two years. That group provides initial training for the nation's space, missile or missile maintenance career fields.

A graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, Edmondson earned her commission in 1992. She has served in a variety of space operations, acquisition and staff assignments associated with space based missile warning; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and communications systems at unit, national, Air Staff and Joint Staff levels.

In addition, Edmondson commanded the 2nd Space Warning Squadron responsible for the nation's over 40-year-old, $3.2 billion on-orbit Defense Support Program satellite constellation and the $17.6 billion Space Based Infrared System which will replace DSP as part of North America's missile early warning and defense systems.

After arriving for her first assignment at JBSA-Lackland, Edmondson said the base's size and the number of mission sets shocked her.

"I had no idea what a huge installation this is and the diversity of missions," she said. "BMT is just one piece on base. You've got the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, the Defense Language Institute, the largest technical training group in the Air Force (the 37th Training Group), not to mention the 59th Medical Wing.

"Then you've got the cyber mission at Kelly. It's like all walks of life from every different AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) has converged here."

Edmondson said she's humbled and honored to be the BMT commander.

"As long as I can make a difference, I'll wear the uniform as long as I can," she said. "Talk about being able to make a difference. We as a team at BMT put over 30,000 Airmen a year into the Air Force. That adds up to a huge percentage of Air Force lives we've had the opportunity to touch.

"I'm not sure where you could make a bigger difference in the Air Force than here."