Development & Training Flight going digital

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • 913th Airlift Group

All aspects of the Air Force Reserve mission have adjusted to stave off COVID-19. The 913th Airlift Group’s Development and Training Flight has leveraged technology to continue to prepare trainees for basic training.

The D&TF program helps future Reserve Citizen Airmen prepare for the transition from civilian to military life.

As the program manager, Master Sgt. Debra Gingrich works closely with new recruits to coordinate administrative paperwork, organize physical fitness classes, and provide introductory training during unit training assembly weekends.

“The program has help me tremendously prepare and answered many random questions,” said Anna Miller, high school senior and D&TF trainee. “I can’t wait to start my Air Force career, go on adventures, and travel the world.”

“I uploaded my lesson plans and helpful information into the unit’s Air Force Connect app,” said Gingrich. “The new telework situation we are facing makes that app an essential tool for my trainees, especially the new trainees I haven’t met face-to-face yet.

“I had already incorporated use of the AF Connect App with the assistance of the Public Affairs office to enable my trainees 24/7 access to training material outside of Unit Training Assemblies.  Since COVID-19 I’ve started giving open book tests over the material located within the app and ensure their success at BMT.”

Air Education and Training Command issued a press release stating trainees arriving at Basic Military Training would be under a restriction of movement order for 14 days upon arrival to ensure social distancing.  There were other procedures put in place to minimize the risk and reduce the training time.

“In addition to online testing, we’ve incorporated using fitness app group challenges to ensure social distancing and encourage physical readiness,” Gingrich said. “I’m using everything I can to help trainees meet the standards they will face in BMT.”

Trainees assigned to the group were scheduled to start BMT in the coming months, but their arrival date has shifted to allow the program to maintain social distancing mitigation efforts.

The shift if Miller’s basic training date potentially complicates her college plan as she was due to finish training and transition to college. With an unknown date for basic training and social distancing restrictions, Miller has adjusted how she prepares for BMT and school.

“Without the use of a gym I’ve adjusted to running outside daily, doing bodyweight workouts and focusing on my diet,” Miller said. “My classes have moved online and there won’t be a graduation ceremony. I certainly miss my friends and we encourage each other in this situation.”

The strict military standards imposed during basic training are methods to build military professionals who can adapt to challenging missions and situations. With COVID-19, trainees will have to quickly adapt and become resilient.