WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Air Force Materiel Command held a ribbon cutting Nov. 3 to commemorate the opening of the first of four newly renovated Follow-On Skills Training centers.
The airfield operations officer training program was recently evaluated and revamped by the Air Force. More than 400 hours of redundant training were eliminated, and an AFMC squadron commander will now oversee all training in the career field.
Twenty-one sites were consolidated into four: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Hill AFB, Utah; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; and Robins AFB, Georgia.
“Headquarters Air Force asked us to leap out ahead of manpower and resources, and Wright-Patt was ahead of the game by having an area that we could resource and build up to establish a facility for the lieutenants to report to and be comfortable in,” said Maj. Hollis Troxel, 88th Operations Support Squadron director of operations. “Wright-Patt was unique in that we had the building and the empty spaces that we were able to take advantage of.”
An airfield operations officer, designated 13M as a military occupational specialty, performs and leads functions such as air traffic control, airfield management, Radar Airfield and Weather Systems maintenance, and airspace management within national and international airspace in both peacetime and combat environments.
Placing AFMC squadron commanders in charge of all 13M training under the revamped program will ensure the career field is healthy and the airfield operations officers are trained appropriately, officials said.
The Follow-On Skills Training Center will standardize and accelerate the training of 13M officers to guarantee they are capable and qualified in airfield operations.
“We have established the fact that our officers are already multi-capable,” Troxel said. “What we want to do now is make them more capable by having a senior 13M officer who is going to invest in them and ensure they are getting the resources that they need and provide adequate oversight while also providing the mentorship that is critical to young officers as they are starting out.”
Upon completion of their commissioning program, 13M officers enter an extensive training pipeline. They will spend 18-24 months moving between WPAFB and Keelser Air Force Base, Mississippi, learning airfield operations, air traffic control, airfield management, RAWS maintenance, deployable navigational-aid systems and how to be an airfield officer.
Wright-Patt’s new FST facility has the capability to train up to 20 students at a time.