A lot has changed in the last 13 years since my enlistment in the United States Air Force. The cause of these changes being a change in direction and the progression of modern society. What worked 13 years ago definitely wouldn't work in 2019.
Before I separated from the military in 2013, I remember hearing murmurs of the things that were going on in the training environment at Lackland Air Force Base. Newly reporting Airmen and recent Military Training Instructors coming from Lackland added to the many murmurs.
We could see from the quality of Airmen reporting to their new duty stations, that the training had undergone some changes. Right as I was transitioning from Basic Training to the Security Forces Technical School, we were informed of new training regimens to hopefully improve the quality of information trainees would be subjected to. One change was the extended training time.
In 2007, Air Force BMT was known to have the shortest training time compared to the other military branches. Basic Training was six weeks long. Six long weeks, from the perspective of trainees being pushed through, but to the instructors pushing flights every six weeks, it was a blur. BMT went from six weeks to eight weeks. It does not seem like a huge leap, and trainees entering into that new training environment would not know any better, not having experienced the six-week training earlier airmen experienced.
2013 brought about a chain of events that would lead to the new training experience for BMT trainees and instructors alike. A sex scandal involving trainees and instructors broke news, making it the worst scandal in Air Force history. Thirty-three instructors were brought under investigation for allegations of misconduct with 63 trainees and tech school students.
Sexual misconduct, in general, is a serious issue no matter where it happens. This type of misconduct coming from leaders that are supposed to supervise and train future leaders in the United States military comes across more severe because of where it is coming from. Being accused of sexual misconduct, true or not, places a dark cloud over everyone involved. It affects the victim, the accused and in this case the United States Air Force.
Although it is a given that any misconduct should be reported, since the scandal, the Air Force ensured to stress the importance of the zero-tolerance mentality when regarding sexual misconduct of any kind. Perception is reality.
The morale of instructors in that environment was on the lower end of the spectrum. Many felt any minor misstep could cost them their careers. This belief may have resulted in the softer handling of trainees at Lackland. Instructors believed the changes within BMT left them with undisciplined trainees. The fear that a trainee's word, even if what they say was false, would be taken as truth, resulting in instructors tip-toeing around in order to avoid losing the careers they worked hard to build.
A survey was conducted, involving 237 unnamed MTIs. Results of the survey showed that less than 35% of the 237 instructors believed trainees respected their authority.
"We are not setting these trainees up for the Air Force outside of BMT. Instead, we are sheltering them and giving them unrealistic low expectations of what is waiting for them outside of these dormitories," says one of the 237 unnamed MTIs in the survey.
Another MTI in the survey says training should be hard and the trainees should feel a sense of accomplishment. This MTI goes on to say, "The poor product we are pushing out now has become the standard. I really hope I'm not around to see the next war."
These are the opinions of some MTIs that have the first-hand experience in dealing with the new trainees enlisting in the military. When considering the mission of the Air Force, the future appears bleak.