AETC commander addresses changes Published Jan. 10, 2007 By Senior Airman Erin Smith 15th Airlift Wing Public Affairs HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- General William R. Looney, III, Air Education and Training Command commander, visited Hickam AFB and Pacific Air Forces to discuss training with other countries' Air Forces. During his visit he explained the changing role of the Air Force and how training is changing to accommodate today's mission. "Training in AETC has evolved significantly since we began our Global War on Terrorism," said General Looney. "Until that time, we were primarily focused on a conventional threat. We were also focused to a degree on the legacy of the cold war. With the evolving nature of combat today for us which is primarily focused with the Global war on terrorism, and the fact that we can be engaged at any time, anywhere across the globe, it is important that our airmen, all airmen have a certain degree of combat skills." This need for combat skills has changed the dynamics of (basic military training). "We have recently adopted an 8.5 week program at basic military training which will focus primarily on combat skills training with an actual week-long exercise where they will demonstrate all the skills that they have been taught during that time frame," he said. "There are a number of initiatives that are ongoing in the command to be able to create an Airman that is first a combatant then an Airman, then a functional specialty. And all this has occurred based on what we have experienced with the beginning of the GWOT." Along with today's changing Airmen, our Air Force is also focused on creating partnerships with other countries, which includes providing aircraft and training to other nation's air forces. "We have great opportunities throughout our Air Force to reach out and create regional partnerships," said General Looney. "Once relationships are created, it is incumbent on those of us in AETC to help make good on the promises that we have made to these countries with regard to providing them with aircraft ... and help them with training both on how to maintain, sustain and fly the aircraft and also to help with their professional development and providing them with educational opportunities at our military schools both in the enlisted and the officer realm." Though the Air Force is changing constantly, one thing remains constant and that is the adventure that comes along with a career in the military, the general said. "I have often heard it said that ordinary people live extraordinary lives in the military. It is a great opportunity to serve your nation and a great opportunity to give back to a wonderful magnificent country like the one belong to," he said. "At the same time, it is a great opportunity for self-fulfillment because of not only the jobs you have the opportunity to perform in our Air Force, but the opportunities for advancement, for enhancement of your personal skills and talents through education and experience are very abundant in the service. More so, I think, than any other occupation." Along with the excitement and opportunities to see new parts of the world and receive training, are the opportunities for lifelong friendships. "Finally there are the relationships that you make within the military. I believe that there is no stronger bond that is developed between people than a bond that is forged in selfless service to a greater cause," General Looney said. "And that is what the military is all about. We are willing to make sacrifices in order to serve our country. And when you do that alongside others who feel the same way, there is camaraderie and a unique relationship that is created like no other and it is a wonderful opportunity for people to get together, and come together and serve together and so that has been one of the highlights of my career is the relationships, life-long lasting that I have developed during my service and it is only because of the type of service that we have in the Air Force."