Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Training: The Foundation for Air and Space Power Transformation

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Training: The Foundation for Air and Space Power Transformation

Article excerpt

Editorial Abstract: Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett urges readers to develop a lifetime-learning ethos as he challenges the Air Force to change its training processes, institutions, and personnel-management systems to better meet the demands of the air and space expeditionary force. He provides a vision of how the Air Force can transition to a fully integrated training program that provides combat-ready air and space leaders and forces to combatant commanders.

AFTER THE DIFFICULTIES encountered in the air war over Vietnam, USAF leaders went to work on creative solutions to enhance aircrew training. Rigorous and standardized initial qualification training (IQT), mission qualification training (MQT), and continuation training (CT); the inclusion of dissimilar air-combat training (DACT); the formation of aggressor squadrons; and the creation of Red Flag characterized these innovations. That tactical foundation has stood the USAF in good stead as demonstrated by combat effectiveness in the Gulf War and the Balkans. However, the USAF must now expand that foundation to meet rapidly changing operational, informational, and technological challenges. This article proposes changes to USAF training institutions, personnel management, training processes, and technologies, allowing the service to meet the demands of the air and space expeditionary force (AEF).

Military training serves three interrelated purposes: to provide essential skills necessary for mission performance, to socialize members of the organization, and to improve performance of commanders and their staffs. The ultimate measure of military training effectiveness is readiness for combat, which now implies mastering a range of tasks, including traditional force-application missions and support for peacekeeping and humanitarian-relief operations. US forces place a high premium on training, especially since the inception of the all-volunteer force with its role as an invaluable force multiplier. Identifiable goals that are consistent with assigned missions and the corporate culture should form the cornerstone of any comprehensive training system to preserve the combat edge that the service derives from training investments.

Purists argue about the distinction between education and training. Absent definitions in either the Air Force Glossary or the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, we rely on Webster to clarify the relationship:

educate. 1.a. To provide with training or knowledge, esp. via formal schooling: TEACH. b. To provide with training for a specific purpose, as a vocation. 2. To provide with information: INFORM. 3. To stimulate or develop the mental or moral growth of.1

train. 1. To coach in or accustom to a mode of behavior or performance. 2. To make proficient with special instruction and practice. 3. To prepare physically, as with a regimen.2

Airmen should minimize these pedagogical debates in recognition that both approaches are complementary and necessary to allow programs to move across a spectrum from education through training as required by instructional goals. In fact, we should stop talking about "education" and "training" and instead develop a "lifetime learning" ethos that favors advantages derived from both pedagogical categories.

While education, specifically professional military education (PME), will continue to be an important aspect of lifetime learning, the remainder of this article focuses on a transformation in Air Force training. This new approach aims to create a rational flow for functional integration and professional growth that aligns training institutions, processes, and technologies with war-fighter requirements, Air Force capabilities, and the career paths of the individuals involved.

A New Institutional Framework for Expeditionary Air and Space Forces

Before embarking on a detailed discussion of the training system, this article will consider the following proposal for reorganizing how the USAF conducts cradle-to-grave training. …

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