Training Airmen: The foundation of our Air Force’s global power

Lt. Col. Jeff Montgomery, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, poses for a photo on Feb. 8, 2017, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory W. Bush)

Lt. Col. Jeff Montgomery, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, poses for a photo on Feb. 8, 2017, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory W. Bush)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

The 510th Fighter Squadron “Buzzards” have a rich legacy of contributing persistent global power for our nation and its allies. During World War II, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and numerous operations over the past 26 years supporting three combatant commands, the Buzzards have delivered combat-ready airpower to support the joint and coalition fight.

 

During the past seven months, we provided more than 4,500 hours of alert coverage in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, thanks to a combined team of 31st Maintenance Group, 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 31st Maintenance Squadron, 31st Munitions Squadron, 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron and 31st Security Forces Squadron Airmen.

 

We often marry the results of each of these operations as contributors to our 31st Fighter Wing mission of deterring aggression and defending U.S. and NATO interests, which are impossible without the third part of our mission – develop Aviano.

 

History has shown us that our Air Force’s success hinges on our people and how we train them. 

 

In our squadron, pilots are developed through a building-block training plan, executing up to eight mission sets within 90 days. Some of these mission sets focus on building habits necessary to executing air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons employment and threat reactions. Others apply real-world scenarios to develop decision-making practices. These 90-day training cycles produce new wingmen, flight lead, and instructor pilots – similar to the development of 3-, 5-, and 7-level qualified Airmen. 

 

The result of this training is a combat-ready pilot – a hallmark of American airpower. By focusing on fundamentals and habit patterns through mission planning, briefing, mission execution and debriefing, we develop skillsets to solve even the most complex problems. 

 

Regardless of the mission, each squadron at Aviano and around our Air Force must not allow training to languish while meeting today’s challenges of decreased personnel and persistent taskings. While technology has often been used to make up for personnel shortages, it’s still Airmen who provide a unique combination of ingenuity, persistence and professionalism to win our nation’s wars. This coincides with the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander’s priority for us to focus on training, because it’s critical to our future success.

 

We will do well to heed to the lessons of those who have gone before us, and focus on developing Airmen to ensure we’re always ready to deter and defend.