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Newest Members of Second Air Force Command Team Experience Innovation During Sheppard Immersion Tour

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  • By Ms. Bailee Russell

The newest members of the Second Air Force command team visited the United States Air Force’s premiere and most diverse training installation last week. While at Sheppard Air Force Base, the team experienced a first-hand look at how the 82nd Training Wing continues to advance force development and technical training transformation.

“The Airmen here are amazing, and I had no idea how staggeringly diverse it is, and it goes beyond all the outlying, geographically separated units,” said Col. Nicholas Dipoma, Second Air Force vice commander. “There’s a lot that the other wings can learn from the innovation that’s happened here that will translate well across the Second Air Force mission.”

Second Air Force Command Chief Master Sg. Kathleen McCool was also impressed by the instructors and Airmen they spoke with, as well as the diversity in training skill sets.

“I think what impresses me the most is that everywhere we’ve gone, people have been able to tie the mission and the importance of the diversity of all the different skill sets to training Airmen for the future threat,” she said.

One of the innovations that stood out to Dipoma was Right Time Training.

“Through some fairly simple modifications to the progression of training, they were able to develop massive efficiencies and cut down on time where students are historically losing proficiency based on unnecessary delays,” he said. “There are many other pipelines across the other four wings that could make similar types of improvements.”

He was also intrigued about Sheppard’s incorporation of augmented reality and virtual reality training.

“While we’re preparing for the future operating environment, and as we look to create multi-capable Airmen, there really is not a feasible answer that doesn’t involve using this approach,” he said. “This sort of skill is going to be critical for us in the future fight.”

McCool highlighted Project Journey, the wing’s effort to improve the process of getting Airmen to their follow-on assignment as soon as possible after graduation.

“To see these types of innovation and processes, and to see the excitement that people have when you let them create a process that works more efficiently and effectively, it’s what we should be doing across the Air Force,” she said.

Both leaders noted the sense of urgency they heard while meeting with both Airmen in training and cadre.  

“It’s not preordained that we’re going to evolve as we need to in order to adapt for the future fight,” Dipoma said.  “We’re at a point right now, that if we don’t retain that sense of urgency and empower younger enlisted Airmen and officers to take chances, have opportunities to fail and learn from those failures, then we won’t be able to compete,” he said. “Keep asking ‘why,’ even if it frustrates someone.”

McCool echoed the sentiment. “I think [the Airmen] are already excited to push our Air Force forward and ready to change and evolve it. So continue to push,” she added. “And to the rest of the Air Force, listen to what they’re saying and then get out of their way because they’re the ones that are going to make the change that will give us a competitive future,” she said, ‘We just have to give them the tools to do it.”