Another One Bites the Dust

Fresh off of decisions by the new Air Force leadership to cancel the realignment of aircraft maintenance units and defer acquiring new uniforms, the service announced yesterday that it has axed plans to establish a new center for Common Battlefield Airmen Training that would have annually trained some 14,000 airmen, including battlefield airmen (such as combat controllers, joint terminal attack controllers, and pararescue jumpers), as well as airmen performing duties such as convoy operations. “After a thorough review, we have determined the best way forward … is to optimize our existing training venues,” service spokeswoman Vicki Stein told the Daily Report yesterday. The service’s plans had progressed to the point that it had narrowed the search of a potential host site to three locations: Arnold AFB, Tenn., Barksdale AFB, La., and Moody AFB, Ga. But Stein said the service’s view now is that existing sites, such as the Expeditionary Center at McGuire AFB, N.J., “can fulfill expeditionary and combatant commander requirements” with some changes in current courses. Since the birth of the CBAT concept in 2001, she said the Air Force has enhanced existing training sites and “vastly improved” the quality and quantity of ground-combat training. Starting in November (a month later than anticipated) basic military training will be 8.5 weeks instead of six to accommodate training in such areas as small arms and emergency medical skills. Stein noted, too, that the service does plan “soon” to provide a single “specialized Battlefield Airman Screening Course for six ground combat and special operator skills sets.”