AFA Policy Forum
"Educating and Training the Force"
General Donald G. Cook
Air & Space Conference 2004—Washington, DC
September 15, 2004
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General Cook: Good morning. What I'd like to do today is to cover with you a few topics. Of course,
we have three main missions in Air Education and Training Command (AETC). We do the recruiting, we do the
training and we do education for the entire Air Force. And we do this with well over 100,000 folks and about 13
I want to start out first of all by giving you a stakeholders' report and then I’ll give you an update on
some of our transitional activities and conclude with a few challenges that face the Training Command and our
We're completing, once again, the best year in recruiting that we've had in the past 16 years. We met our
goal in '03 and we are well on our way to meeting our goals in '04. Why the success? I think there are four
basic reasons why we have been so successful. First of all, in about '01 we decided that we couldn't compete
and do business with the other services in the marketplace with only 900 recruiters, and so we increased up our
recruiting team by about 700.
The other factor is that we then went and formulated a national advertising campaign. We have a lot of tools
in the toolbox. I think most of you saw a number of the ads that we are going forth with this year, and that has
been quite successful. The other thing is I think there is indeed a propensity for people to serve the country.
In spite of the global war on terrorism, I think that we are indeed still getting a bump in recruiting from 9/11.
Finally, there is this issue that I talk about which is the inverse relationship between recruiting and the Dow
Jones Average. Any time the Dow Jones is going down, our recruiting becomes easier. But don't be fooled by this
because the Dow Jones is up around 10,300 right now, but we are well positioned in the future with those programs
when the economy continues to improve. So I think we're in better shape right now than we ever have been in terms
of the tools that we have in order to compete in that marketplace.
'05 is going to be a challenging year. We have taken or will take in '05 a $23 million cut out of our
recruiting budget. We are going to recruit 11,000 fewer recruits into about 55 AFSCs. You might say it's going
to be easier for our recruiters, however, I've told them it's going to be tougher because you have fewer areas to
select in and we also want to make sure that we're getting the best and the brightest, so you can't hook the
first person who got away for a few bites to get the very best for our high tech Air Force.
In terms of the '06, we're going to go back up to about 36,000 recruits again. I would suggest that, going
back to '05, that this is an opportunity for our Guard and Reserve to put more people into Basic Military Training
(BMT) and also to take advantage of the tech school slots, the open seats we're going to have in '05 because we
will be recruiting fewer people. So it's a good news/bad news story in terms of what we're doing in the Air Force
and the opportunity that avails itself for the Guard and Reserve to catch up.
The quality of recruits has been outstanding. We still continue to have 99% of our recruits with high school
degrees. That's an assignment of accomplishment. We have to have one percent because the Congress told us that
we couldn't recruit 100% high school graduates. So the one percent has an equivalency, if you will. Finally,
53% of our folks are in CAT 1s and CAT 2s, which means on the Air Force or DoD aptitude test they are scoring in
the top two categories. Eight-two percent of our folks score in the top 50%. So we are really doing an excellent
job in terms of getting bright youngsters into the United States Air Force.
In terms of BMT, obviously it's a six and a half week course. We will go under some review. The review was
supposed to have occurred next year, but we are going to push that up to this year because we want to take
advantage of things that are going on right now. A number of years ago, under General Newton's leadership, we
instilled a Warrior Week, which is a high intensity week that most all of our youngsters get to go through and
it's designed to create an understanding about the deployment environment—self-aid, buddy care if you will, and
to build confidence, discipline and teamwork and take folks who are civilians and finally get them mission ready
or more mission ready as they go into tech school.
Tech school becomes a balancing act, particularly when we are going to decrease the number of people that we're
going to recruit so we are going to obviously have open seats. But we trained over 220,000 folks in tech school.
That is from initial training. That is from refresh courses, if you will. It's seven-level training for our
craftsmen skills that they go back to tech school. We are also working with General Lance Lord and his folks on
the Space Commission's direction to create a cadre of space professionals. We will have the Space 100 course at
Vandenberg, and then the 200 and 300 series courses will be conducted at Schriever at the Space Warfare Center,
but the new course is coming online and we're doing very well with that one.
We did a logistics review a number of years ago and the out-product of that, of course, is our logistics
readiness officer, where we have taken a number of functional areas and combined them—transportation, supply, if
you will. These are the folks that are the "get out of town" folks and the sustainment folks once we get into
the deployed locations. The schoolhouse is training folks in that skill set. It's a new officer career area, if
you will, and that's down at Lackland Air Force Base.
We've also haven’t stood still in terms of our security force training. We've increased the number of days in
the security force training. We've revitalized our fuels training course so that it is more expeditionary in
nature. And a course that we are getting rave reviews on is the Logistics for Operational Commanders, where we
take the squadron commanders of operational units who don't necessarily know a lot about logistics and we have a
two-week course up at Shepherd Air Force Base where we train them. We also are doing ops officers in that course,
and we're getting pretty good reviews.
In terms of air crew training, while we have decreased the number of pilots that we're training for the active
duty down to about 1,050 or so, we have opened up the gates a little bit for the Guard and Reserve. We are still
training over 500 navigators, or combat systems officers we'll call them, at 1st of October.
The other thing we're doing is making great strides in Night Vision Goggles (NVG). As you know, we fly at
night, so the more we can fly at night the better off we are. We are really pushing the envelope on NVG training.
We are full up at Luke Air Force Base for F-16 training. For example, anyone who is going to go be assigned at
Kunsan leaves Luke with a qualification, a certification in night vision goggles. We are well on the way at
Tyndall in terms of getting the NVG training, and of course we're doing it at Little Rock in C-130s and C-17s at
Altus. So this is a pretty good step forward in terms of our capability, to take the burden of that kind of
training off the operational squadrons so the folks have a qualification or at least an orientation once they get
to the operational units.
Our helicopter training is changing. As you know, we have trained with the Army for the past 25 years down at
Fort Rucker. The Army has decided to go in a new direction in their training with the 21st Century Training
Initiative, so we are taking over, if you will, our own helicopter training. We have acquired 45 Hueys from the
Army. We'll send them through a mod line, zero time them, and they will then become Huey-2s, so we'll have that
aircraft for the next 25 years to train our helo pilots.
In terms of Academy flying operations, on the first of October the Training Command will assume responsibility
and oversight for all the flying training at the Air Force Academy. This means not only the initial flying that
they do up there for screening, it's also the jump school they have up there, the power gliders and the glider
program. We think that this is a good way to do business. We will stand up the 306th Group, reporting directly
to 19th Air Force, and the 306th has some great history behind it. It's the group that's highlighted in the
movie "12 O'Clock High," so it's got a direct relationship with leadership. There are still some 306th members
out there who will come to the dedication and stand up on the first of October.
We're doing more international training than we have in the past. We are under contract now to train 12
Polish pilots. We will provide them a 38C introduction before they go to Luke. We are training the next group
of 50 Pakistanis in the T-38. We have instructor pilots from Japan. We have an instructor pilot who's a MiG-21
pilot flying T-38s at Columbus. The world is a changed place and we are really excited about the opportunity to
expand the international training. We are also going to train some of the folks from Italy. As you know, Tucson,
the 162nd at Tucson is our international F-16 training schoolhouse and they just accepted their first two F-16
Block 60s for the UAE and will begin training her shortly in the Block 60.
Finally, in air crew training, enlisted air crew training, we have revamped that. We have assigned that over
to 19th Air Force from 2nd Air Force. Boom operators, loadmasters, all begin at Lackland and then we of course
flush them out to the various bases, whether it's Little Rock or Altus, to get their follow-on training. But
that is a program that's been under revamp for some time and we're now pleased to say that it’s completed.
On a “gee whiz” note, AETC flies about 45% of the Air Force flying hours and most of that is done by people
who don't wear wings.
Earlier, I think you were told about the integration of the Senior NCO Academy and the Air and Space Basic
Course. For one week we combine the two classes in an operational environment. I think it's safe to say that
the senior NCOs had a confirmation about 2nd lieutenants; and the 2nd lieutenants had an epiphany about senior
NCOs. But it's a great opportunity to take young lieutenants and put them in an environment where they can truly
understand the talent, the wisdom and the experience of our senior NCOs.
As we did that, we believe the output will be more master sergeants attending senior NCO academy because we
want to keep the ratio and the numbers up. So we decided it would benefit us all if we created a Chief Master
Sergeants Leadership Course. Not unlike the general officers' orientation course that you go through when you're
a brigadier. But again, it's designed for chiefs. It's to talk about policies, strategies, the expectations of
our chiefs, not the expectations of E-9s.
In terms of our intermediate developmental education, we have expanded the opportunities. We are now at the
Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) with 120 majors who thought they were going to ACSC or Navy and we have
them now getting technical degrees and master's degrees down at AFIT. We have set up a small detachment at
Wright Patterson Air Force Base so that they can get joint Professional Military Education credit in addition to
going on their master's degree programs. We have increased the opportunity at SAAS, the School Advanced Aerospace
Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base, up to 43 folks. Finally, this past year we got accreditation from the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award an accredited master's degree at the Air War College at
SAAS and also ACSC. In addition to that, we have another five year accreditation for the Community College of
the Air Force. This is a big, big deal.
It's part of the Secretary's initiative to make getting a master's degree more available to people, instead of
doing it like myself, General Jumper and Speedy Martin—on your weekends or at night school.
In terms of some of the Secretary's initiatives, we have taken a look at AFIT, we've done an entire review.
Part of that review process was to create the Center for Systems Engineering. We want to preclude things like
the cartoon I think we've all seen where the East and the West railroad meets, except the tracks are misaligned.
That's what systems engineering in the simplest terms is all about—to make sure that as a product is being
developed you know how to integrate the systems and the parts as it goes down the production line or the
acquisition line. So we've started that undergraduate degree program at the Air Force Academy and we also now
have it in a master's degree level at the Center for System Engineering at Wright Pat. We have plussed up funding
for advance degrees as well. So we have a Secretary and a Chief who are very, very big into the educational
Let's talk about a little bit of transformation. You can't give a briefing in Washington, D.C. without saying
the word “transformation,” so I said it. [Laughter]
We are doing some modernization initiatives. The T-6 is a great system. Glass cockpit. It goes from our
T-37, which you know has a steam gauge technology in it, to present 21st century technology along with the T-38C.
The C does the same thing. It puts a head-up display in the airplane, gets GPS in it. The replacement for the
T-38 is a T-38. It will have new brakes. It's already got new wings on it a number of years ago, a new ejection
seat, and so it will be a great airplane as we move into F-35s and F/A-22 transition.
We have eight F/A-22s at Tyndall Air Force Base. Actually six of them today are at Nellis Air Force Base
because of the storm. One is on jacks going through a mod line. The other one has got an electrical problem we
couldn't fix, but they're in the hangar that can sustain 120 knots of wind. We have gone through the syllabus
validation on that and we will begin training the first squadron commander of the Langley squadron here right at
the end of the year. So it's a tremendous success. The C-130J is also a tremendous success.
Let me back up now and talk about the Introduction to Flight Training (IFT). Some of you may or may not know
this, but if you're going to go to pilot training the first thing you do is you go out and we pay for you to get
a private pilot's license. We have 250 locations throughout the United States where our young aspiring pilots go
to get their private pilot's license. There is absolutely zero washout rate in that program. They either drop
out or they succeed. Then when they get to pilot training the story is somewhat different.
What we want to do is to put the discipline into that program up front. We have an RFP or Request For
Proposal on the street. We have 12 contracting industry teams that will bid on this project, but it is to
consolidate all of IFT at one location, taught by a contractor, where we can now have control of the individuals.
We can get them into the training pipeline easier, and we can establish some military standards in how they
train. I think it will become a true screening program and not just a program where we go out and get people
their private pilot's license and then they don't stick with us through pilot training.
I mentioned earlier about the Combat Systems Officer (CSO). We have for too long in our Air Force undervalued
the potential and the capability and the abilities of our navigators. That's a fact. If you look at the United
States Navy, they have naval flight officers who wear the rank of four stars, who wear the rank of three stars,
who wear the rank of two stars. You have to ask yourself why. Because early in their careers they give them
opportunities to lead, to manage, to use judgment, and to have positions of responsibility. I think the CSO
concept, where we take the former navigator career field and we combine it with being a weapon system officer,
being an electronic warfare officer, and you go through one fundamental training program and then you select what
you want to do, whether you want to go be a strike CSO, whether you want to go be a C-130 CSO, MC-130 CSO, and
then we will open up a greater career path for our combat systems officers to perhaps go into the ABM career
field, to go into that air battle management, to understand employment of air power much more than what is done
today, and that is Point A, Point B, Point C, and some of our systems. I think it's a good opportunity. It will
also be an opportunity to become a Predator pilot. They will also go through this centralized introduction to
flight training to include solo.
We have been on a road for about two and a half to three years now with the technologically advanced classroom.
We call it Classroom 2005. By 2005 we want all our classrooms to be high tech classrooms. We are well on our
way. These include schematic power browsers, point and click on the blackboards. You know the old blackboards?
You point and click. You see there the instructor is training on a KC-135. It should be a 767, but we're not
there yet. [Laughter] Anyway, you can point and click, you can get a view, things move, you can move the
airplane around. You can take, for example, the Classroom 2005 program for the Gatling gun. You can move the
Gatling gun, you can disassemble the Gatling gun, all on the board.
What we have found is that our washout rate or our re-test rate is 35% less, and we have found out that
classroom time is about 20% less to learn, and the certification rates are much, much higher for the individuals.
So there is really a good solid return on investment when we make these kinds of changes.
The next step in this is to link some of the classrooms. This is a concept that we're trying where we can
have one instructor teaching four classes and because of technology you can do this. It's almost individualized
because while you're not in the room with the instructor, you can see the instructor on the screen and everything
that instructor, he or she, is trying to teach you, and it's interactive.
We're also changing the T-38C BRI briefing room interactive. You can get your initial briefing online. If
you want to point, click on a subject, whether it's formation, you can get actual formation flying, you can get
animated formation flying. Whether it is a God's eye view, whether it is in the cockpit view, whether it is a
profile view, all while you're doing your briefing at the desk at your computer. So with instructor supervision,
you can then come back and plug in the tape that you recorded your flight on and it will be self-critiquing. So
this is an initiative that we're doing in our (Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training) SUPT now.
We now do distance learning over ATN, which is a satellite network. We have the ability to teach and we have
classroom testing ability at places like Manas, Karshi Kanabad, overseas locations. In the November timeframe,
we will have Community College of the Air Force courses on line so our folks can take them at remote locations.
We’re still in the baby steps, but this is the vision of where we want to go with distance learning. With our
deployable Air Force we want to make sure that we have got the technology out there to support the troops.
There's not a lot to do at some of these places except work, so when you're not working, you're either over at
the gym or you're over at the learning center getting smart.
We have a pot of money every year in the Education, Training, and Awareness Program (ETAP) where we go out and
we try to experiment with the latest technology and invest in ideas. One of the ideas is the BOWST, the Boom
Operator Weapon System Trainer. We have spent all our time developing simulators and weapon systems trainers for
the pilot crew up front. We have not made the same investment for our enlisted air crews trainer, whether it's
loadmasters or boom operators in particular. So what happens now is that the pilots get trained quicker than the
boom operators. The boom operators are generating flight time. We've got to go fly the boom operator because he
needs three more rides, but the pilots have already been trained.
So we've got the back end boomers driving some of the flying hour requirements. Why don't we make the same
investment in the boom operators that we've made in the pilots? Well, the BOWST does that. The BOWST will be a
natural-feeling simulator. I think we can probably get it up to about Level D, which is what the industry
standard is for pilots. You can train not only C-17s, you can train on F-16s, F-18s, you name it, and the boom
operators then could go through training, get fewer actual rides in the airplane, and come out with a
certification on a system just like the pilots do. It is a program that is fully funded, but it was an ETAP
initiative that we had.
Expeditionary combat skills. We need to make sure that we are taking the lessons from the AOR, from the
global war on terror, to apply them to BMT or elsewhere to ensure that our airmen are as prepared as best
prepared as they possibly can be.
In order to do that, we have to first define what skills we want our airmen to know and understand. The
second thing is to determine where and how that training ought to be conducted. Do you want it done all in BMT,
in tech training? Do you want it through on the job training or in unit training? Or do you want just in time
or regional training centers? We have to decide where in that spectrum of training capability we want these
things to occur.
With BMT now, we have initiated Warrior Week and we've increased physical fitness training. A two mile run
to get out of BMT. We run in formations like you can see in this picture, well above Air Force standards. But
we need to make sure that we continue to do realistic Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) education. We are
now qualifying people in the M-16. Not just an orientation, a qualification. We have to make sure now that when
someone comes out of BMT, they're qualified in the M-16. They should get credit for that at the unit. Sometimes
they don't. The unit says, “well, you've got to go out and shoot.” The guy says, “I've already shot.” Well, we
don't think so.
We need to look at deployment processing, we need to look at things like field training exercises, and that
is exactly what the BMT review by these chiefs sitting in the front row is going to accomplish later on in the
week. We are transforming BMT to make sure that we've got an expeditionary focus on our airmen, to make sure we
are committed to the culture of expeditionary airmen. Again, the triennial review will be conducted here this
week. We will be teaching from the lessons that we gather from GWAT and applying them correctly to BMT and
across the board.
One of the examples that we had was we've got about 500 Air Force transporters supporting the Army in convoy
ops. I will tell you that the first group that went over, when I met with them on the Udari range they had been
there for a number of weeks getting trained. So we came back and decided to stand up a basic combat skills
course at Lackland and Camp Bullis. It's a four-phase program. We do tactics, we do weapons qualifications, we
do field exercises, and we do integration and onward movement. Integration and onward movement is an actual
convoy from Bullis up to Fort Hood where we go out on the range, do convoy ops, we fly our SAWs and we fly our 50
cals, and then we convoy back. On the 2nd of September, I did the field exercise with them and it is as
realistic as we can possibly make it. We have simunitions, I don't know if you've seen simunitions before. It's
not a paint ball, it's an actual bullet that looks like a candle, if you will, and it stings like hell when it
hits you. But they come under attack, they're attacked at night. They do NVGs. It is leadership training, so
we send the NCOs and the officers that are going to lead these flights, to use this for a week of small unit
leadership training, and then they go train their guys and gals at Lackland and Bullis. It is a wonderful
Here are some of the remarks that came out of Jerry Sheck and one of the battalion commanders. Four
engagements, no injuries, tactically sound. We continue to remind the Army that we don't have companies, we
have flights and squadrons.
Let me show you a little video.
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