Air Force officials announced beginning June 2, the service will continue to hold basic military training at a secondary location until the end of COVID-19 surge operations.
The decision to stand up BMT’s initial operating capability, or IOC, at Keesler AFB under Detachment 5 of the 37th Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas comes after a successful proof-of-concept trial run at the base, which began April 7.
“This capability was a deliberately-developed option to disperse the delivery of BMT during contingencies to provide surge capacity and introduce agility in the training pipeline construct,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander. “This move also helps ensure the health and safety of our trainees and instructors by allowing proper safety controls, like physical distancing and deep cleaning.”
With the stand-up of IOC and every week, until the need for surge operations diminishes, 60 new recruits from across the total force will arrive for six weeks of BMT. The shortened requirement, down from 8 1/2 weeks, is due to the physical layout of the BMT area, the small number of recruits and a surge schedule, which trains Airmen 10 hours per day, six days a week, versus eight hours per day.
The move also provides relief to JBSA-Lackland’s training infrastructure, Tullos said.
“Air Force BMT remains vital to renew the force and to the delivery of air and space power any time, any place,” she said. “Keesler (AFB)’s training mission is already set up with many of the facilities and procedures required to execute the mission.”
Another reason Keesler AFB was chosen for BMT was that members of the 81st Training Wing and its detachments already conduct more than 160 career field specialty training courses.
“Having trainees finish BMT and head across the base to begin technical training eliminates the need to transport trainees to another location after graduation,” Tullos said. “Limiting movement effectively limits the number of times our Airmen could potentially be exposed to COVID-19.”
Keesler AFB BMT is a contingency option and is not designed to be implemented longer than 180 days, but it is designed to be sustainable for longer periods if required, Tullos said. She also said there are no current plans to continue BMT at multiple locations following the COVID-19 pandemic.