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A recent article on Defense News provided insight into how the U.S. Air Force prepared and continues to carry out recruiting and training during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper, “The basic military training mission remains absolutely vital to renew our air and space forces and underwrites our ability to defend the nation and deliver air and space power any time, any place… The entire team here has demonstrated what fighting through COVID-19 looks like with flexibility and tenacity, ensuring the safety of the recruiting, training, and education pipeline.”

Esper was joined by Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón Colón-López during a visit to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Following safety guidelines, the two arrived to observe the 37th Training Wing, The U.S. Air Force’s largest training unit. In addition to transforming recruits into airmen, Lackland AFB contains training facilities for security forces, logistics, and professional military education programs. The base also hosts the English component (DLIELC) of the Defense Language Institute. More than 85,000 students graduate from Lackland Air Force Base programs each year.

The reason for the visit? To gain an in-depth look at how military officials have adjusted their training programs during the coronavirus pandemic. Focusing on ensuring military readiness and national security, Esper and Colón-López reviewed the 14-day restriction of movement protocol for recruits arriving at training, testing procedures, person-under investigation, and COVID-19 isolation operations

The visit included a stop at the Reid Clinic, where new trainee in-processing takes place. It is also where the 59th Medical Wing conducts basic military training for medical support operations.

An additional visit was made to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico with the purpose of reviewing potential contingency operations for the 37th Training Wing, using a BEAR Base (rapidly deployable military shelter systems used for forward operating bases).

“What the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service has done in response to COVID-19 … has been incredible. It’s evident basic military training’s success in the COVID-19 environment can be largely credited to the corps, creating a culture of safety,” Esper stated.

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