The Air Force closed the long-running obstacle course at Basic Military Training in favor of a new course that offers similar challenges, but puts more emphasis on team work and leadership skills. The new leadership reaction course became fully operational in late September, integrating into Basic Expeditionary Airmen’s Training Week (BEAST) at JBSA-Lackland, Texas, according to an Oct. 12 release. The old obstacle course, which was built at Lackland in November 1942, closed late last month and has been replaced by the new course as part of an effort to consolidate all like training at BEAST. The effort also seeks to condense the overall length of the BMT process while reinforcing the Air Force’s core values. The new course is approximately 1.3 miles long and emphasizes teamwork—a change from the old course—and problem-solving skills. Airmen also complete the course in a Kevlar vest and helmet and with their M-16s in tow, to make it more realistic. “The new course adds many more scenarios which will require them to use skills like self-aid (and) buddy care, CPR, wingmanship, and teamwork,” said TSgt. Richard Harding, a 319th Training Support Squadron military training instructor and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the obstacle course. “They get to apply foundational expeditionary skills training like tactical formation movements, low and high crawling, basic defense, force protection conditions, and weapon fighting techniques. Basically, they will be applying everything they learned in BMT.” (See also BMT Gets Real from the February 2011 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.