Commentary: Standing strong in the face of an opponent we didn’t see coming

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Julie Gudgel, Command Chief
  • Air Education and Training Command

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Why is it necessary to continue to train Airmen during this COVID-19 pandemic? Why do you continue to bring new recruits into Basic Military Training?  These and more are all questions being asked of our Air Force during this fast-moving, dynamic time as we wage war with an invisible enemy – the novel coronavirus.

We know many of you are concerned about COVID-19 and its impacts not only to what we are doing here in Air Education and Training Command, but also what it means for you and your families.  With the scope and spread of the virus continuing for the unforeseeable future, these types of questions are completely reasonable and should be asked.

The answer all ties back to our mission here in Air Education and Training Command of recruiting, training and educating exceptional Airmen who can immediately make an impact on arrival at their duty stations to support combatant commanders around the globe execute the National Defense Strategy.

Throughout the Department of Defense, every military branch and commanders at all levels have been charged with protecting people, maintain mission readiness, and support the whole-of-government approach to fighting the coronavirus.

In a recent virtual Town Hall, our Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, noted COVID-19 presents challenges for us in terms of the national security environment, from our allies and adversaries alike.

In regards to our allies, it may be incumbent upon us to help them fight the virus with our own supplies, our own doctors and other necessities.  The secretary also noted that our potential adversaries may act out in different ways that impact our security posture and readiness.

Here in AETC, we must continue to build our military advantage through growing trained, ready Air and Space Professionals.  We train literally thousands of Airmen every day, turning over our training population weekly, and nobody does it better than us – but that is because of you.

Our leaders understand and embrace every force health protection precaution to ensure the safety of you and your families. We will continue to visit with your teams to solicit feedback. 

To repeat what I hear Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, our commander here in AETC, say at every meeting…”Calm is contagious.”  We will get through this together and we’ll be an even stronger command at its end!