News: New Jersey Air Guard Student Flight prepare recruits for basic training
Story by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen
SEA GIRT, N.J. - No one's yelling at them.
But when the training instructors at Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas begin molding the new enlistees, the New Jersey recruits will be ready for the experience.
"It's quite a culture shock when they step off the bus at basic training," said Master Sgt. Shane Clark, recruiting office supervisor, 108th Wing. "We reduce the culture shock for them."
For two days in April, 44 members of the New Jersey Air National Guard Student Flight had the opportunity to experience a simulated BMT environment set up by 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing recruiters and other unit members at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, N.J.
Normally Student Flight members meet at their Wings, but once a quarter both Wings are brought together at Sea Girt.
"We run them through a simulated basic training for the weekend," said Clark. "Our goal is to have them prepared for what's going to happen when they step off the bus."
Student Flight gives new enlistees a head start on basic training, making the transition from civilians into airmen easier from the time of enlistment until the time they leave for BMT.
"Historically the self eliminations in basic training happen in the first week," said Clark.
To prevent those recruits from quitting, Student Flight covers topics such as reporting procedures, drill and ceremony, physical training and the Air Force mission, vision and core values. Additionally, they attend classes that range from resiliency training to financial management.
The preparation is paying off. Since the New Jersey Air National Guard Student Flight started in October 2011, none of the New Jersey enlistees have self eliminated in the first week.
More importantly they are succeeding.
"We find that our folks end up being put in leadership positions at BMT," said Clark.
These positions, which range from being element leaders to guidon bearers and dorm chiefs, give the recruits their first position of responsibility in the Air Force.
The program was coordinated with Air Education and Training Command to determine what New Jersey could and could not do to prepare Student Flight members for BMT.
Recruits spend four to eight months in Student Flight and every New Jersey recruit goes through the Sea Girt experience at least once. In cases where the time between enlisting and going to BMT is longer than four months, the enlistees get a second and sometimes a third opportunity at Sea Girt.
"The people that have been here before, we put in charge of the other recruits," said Clark.
The feedback from returning airmen about the Sea Girt experience is positive with the majority of them saying it helped them get through the first week.
"They understood the point of everything at basic training," said Clark. "They were ready for it."