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AETC Command Team gets first-hand look at Keesler’s premier warfighters

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The command team of Air Education and Training Command visited here for an immersion tour Jan. 29-31.

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC, and Chief Master Sgt. Julie Gudgel, command chief of AETC, along with their spouses Dawna and Rob respectively, had the chance to get familiar with the Second Air Force mission, tour 81st Training Wing facilities and meet with students, permanent party Airmen and base leaders.

“The chief and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting the Airmen, the dragons at the 81st Training Wing, and Second Air Force,” said Webb. “The role that Keesler plays is fundamental and every drop of cyber training that happens in the Air Force happens here.”

The AETC command team had the opportunity to tour the Levitow Training Support Facility and some of the schoolhouses to observe the training innovations occurring inside the 81st TRW.

“Today’s generation of Airmen are more willing and eager to learn at all times,” said Webb. “The whole philosophy of not being at a blackboard teaching, but flipping the classroom, getting students involved, being more student-centric and providing content beforehand is making our Airmen more ready, lethal and confident earlier.”

Keesler teaches over 160 courses to more than 28,000 students annually. With such a wide variety of courses taught, Webb was impressed with the increased level of comprehension and progression Airmen have shown by using the latest teaching methodologies in the school houses.

“Incorporating technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it’s all happening at Keesler Air Force Base,” said Webb. “When you’re able to provide those tools, have that methodology and combine those two, that’s where you see the explosive change in our Airmen. This whole process is holistic; all of these things add up.”

Webb was also impressed with the strides Keesler has made in building a culture of safety and resilience for Airmen and their families by building the Larcher Lighthouse for Airmen living in the permanent party dormitories, the Query the Colonel videos and the Hashtag Resilience video series.

“The social pillar from the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness is very important,” said Webb. “The Airmen understand that, but we have to create an environment where Airmen will be able to do that. The leadership philosophy at Second Air Force and the 81st TRW is really second to none, and places like the Lighthouse are one of the many things that has the ability to get Airmen out of their rooms and be more social.”

Providing a safe, secure and healthy environment for Airmen and families is paramount to Air Force leadership. Over the past year, Keesler has worked to align its efforts under the Department of Defense’s five major lines of effort with regards to privatized housing: empowering residents, improving oversight, integrating leadership, improving communication and standardizing policy. Webb saw first-hand the strides Keesler has made with their improvements to their privatized housing and applauded the progress.

“What I saw on my tour is the leadership and the Airmen here at Keesler understand that a challenge can be an opportunity,” said Webb. “There’s been a great deal of effort to communicate with all entities from civil engineers, Hunt Housing and military members to find out what we’re up against and find solutions to fix the hills that we have. More importantly, the team has been able to get out in front of it and be proactive to our approach in tackling some of the housing issues.”

After touring the different facilities on base and witnessing the advancements the 81st TRW made in educating and training exceptional Airmen, Webb left with praise for the team.

“Being lethal and ready starts right here in the First Command and I’m really proud of the enormous amount of training that occurs here,” said Webb. “What Second Air Force and the Dragons are doing every day in training Airmen who are ready to join the fight as soon as they graduate is critical to the Air Force being able to fly, fight and win and helps ensure the security of our nation in this era of great power competition.”