JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
Concern, fear, anxiety, and fatigue shadow the rigid, but unorthodox position of attention among the young men and women of the 315th Airlift Wing Development and Training Flight here. Mixed among those faces, beamed a glimmer of pride and patriotism that sparked the initiative of these recently enlisted trainees who are bound for Air Force basic military training.
The DTF program, at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, helps to mentally and physically prepare future Air Force Reserve members for the rigors of military training through education, fitness, and scenario-based events in order to minimize their attrition rate at BMT.
“Are they prepared to generate a whole new mindset and way of living to meet the Air Force’s needs?” asked Tech. Sgt. William Anderson, 315th Airlift Wing Development and Training Flight program manager. “Are they willing to fully adapt the Air Force core values in their life? They should truly grasp the concept that their dedication to service is 365 days a year, not just on drill weekends.”
Ranging from recent high school graduates to experienced career professionals, the Air Force Reserve relies on DTF to ready future Airmen for the demands of a career as Citizen Airmen.
Beginning at 4:50 a.m., trainees gather in formation to be accounted for before setting out to learn, train and prepare for their arrival at BMT and technical training schools in the coming weeks and months ahead.
“It's getting us used to the rigors of what we're going to see at basic training,” said Reginald Hinson, an element leader and trainee in the DTF. “For those that are not ready or not up to standards, it's giving them the reality of what they're going to be facing. It lets people know what they need to do to improve their fitness.”
Joining the less than one percent of the country’s population who choose to serve in the Air Force, the bright-eyed trainees arrive at JB Charleston and immediately begin a physical fitness assessment in order to measure their readiness. After completing the push-ups, sit-ups and a mile-and-a-half run, the trainees quickly cleanup and jump back into formation to continue their day.
“I love this program and coming from the active duty, I didn’t even know what an airman basic was,” said Anderson. “We have fully trained Airmen by the time they’re getting to BMT so they already know what the standards are.”
The personal and professional challenges that participants face serve multiple purposes. For the individuals, it promotes confidence, punctuality, teamwork, protocol and problem solving. For the Reserve, it shapes the workforce by training and preparing future Airmen to reach their fullest potential.
“One reason I joined is education,” said Olivia Holmes, an element leader and trainee in the DTF. “I have my bachelor’s degree in Human Resources so I want to go back and get my master's degree. In the military I can get new skills and abilities that I can use on the civilian side as well.”
Throughout the uniform training assembly weekend, the DTF members are addressed by the wing’s leadership, future co-workers in their respective shops and past participants of the DTF who recently graduated from BMT and technical school.
“Learning how to practice my leadership skills, I plan on carrying that into other areas of my life,” said Hinson.
As the weekend comes to an end, trainees leave with a sense of accomplishment and an understanding that they are better prepared for their future military careers. They also depart with a support network of wingman who will serve side-by-side with them in the days, weeks, and years to come.
“No matter how tired they are, no matter what situation they're in, no matter how stressful it is, they're going to know how much they need someone next to them,” said Anderson. “Being Reservists, we deploy, that's what we're training for. When you're in that down-range environment, you're going to want to have a wingman there no matter the situation. No one gets left behind and no one gets left out.”