AETC commander addresses command's issues, triumphs

by Lt. Col. Sean McKenna
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

2/25/2011 - ORLANDO -- The commander of Air Education and Training Command highlighted the Air Force's successes in recruiting, training and educating Airmen while acknowledging the many challenges ahead during a presentation at the 27th Annual Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 18.

Gen. Edward Rice Jr. spoke to a group of nearly 250 military professionals, aerospace industry insiders and media members.

The presentation, titled "AETC: Today's Challenges...Tomorrow's Opportunities," touched on the command's achievements in 2010, including leading and graduating a student population of more than 330,000 military members, before turning attention to the many challenges the Air Force's fourth-largest command faces in the days ahead.

"Be proud of what's going on in your Air Education and Training Command, carrying out tasks that are meeting the needs of our combatant commanders," said General Rice, who assumed command Nov. 17.


The Air Force met 100 percent of its active-duty enlisted and line-officer recruiting goals in fiscal year 2010, General Rice said, all while welcoming the brightest crop of Airmen in Air Force history, with more than 90 percent of recruits scoring in the upper half of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude-Battery test.

He pointed out there is still room for improvement, especially in health professions recruiting, where the challenge remains attracting fully qualified doctors and dentists, primarily because of the disparity in salaries between what the Air Force and the civilian sector can offer.

Flying training

General Rice reported the Air Force met 95 percent of its programmed undergraduate flying training in FY10 and 89 percent of its overall flying training production, consisting of 91 officer and 30 enlisted pipelines with 302 different courses offered.

The challenge that lies ahead, he said, is keeping up with the Air Force's high demand for pilot production, leaving little headroom for dealing with the unexpected.

With aging aircraft such as the 50-year-old T-38 Talon primary trainer, the future of the Air Force's flying training program is a top Air Force priority.

Technical training

With a goal of filling 90 percent of its technical training seats, the Air Force bested that in FY10 with 95 percent, General Rice noted, while expertly managing 136 separate career-field curriculums totaling more than 3,000 courses. However, certain critical career fields - including pararescue jumper, combat controller, cryptological language analyst, cyber systems operator, airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operator - continue to suffer from production shortfalls, he said.

Improving the shortfalls in those critical career fields remains a top focus for AETC, General Rice said. For example, with the attrition rate for pararescue trainees at 90 percent, the Air Force has tightened its recruiting and screening processes, with the aim of bringing in a PJ candidate much more likely to withstand the rigors of an intense PJ training pipeline that encompasses 11 courses during 424 days.

Core mission analysis

The general explained the command's core mission analysis, a process that identifies AETC's requirements, roles and missions, and determines how it can most effectively and efficiently accomplish those missions. Doing so, he said, leads the command to make better resourcing decisions and manage risk more effectively, with the goal being to maintain the highest standards of recruiting, training and education excellence in a resource-constrained environment.

"The senior leadership of AETC is spending a lot of time ... making sure that every one of the things we do is still relevant and is tied back to something we have been asked to do by a valid authority," General Rice said.

General Rice concluded his presentation by reiterating that AETC remains "The First Command," the foundation of the Air Force enterprise, the fire from which every Airman warrior is forged. For the U.S. Air Force to continue to succeed in the years ahead, he said, AETC will have to continue to work the margins hard and make the fullest use of its precious resources through the CMA process.