News: TEC 2013: ‘A lot of training and education’
Story by Master Sgt. Michael Smith
MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center spent much of the year training record numbers of students, bringing new value to distance learning and conferencing, hosting international and special guests, and celebrating 45 years of professional military education.
Instructors were busy, and at one point, this summer, the TEC marked a record number of PME students training on campus at one given time, which included the TEC's first two Bulgarian students.
It was also a busy time for career field managers, instructors, broadcasters and others who teamed up here, on several occasions, to offer training and virtual conferencing over the TEC TV's Warrior Network. Even the Air National Guard's Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling and the National Guard Bureau's Senior Enlisted Leader, Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, stopped in for broadcasts and graduations, among other VIPs.
In addition, a new Satellite Airman Leadership School began in the spring, and its students arrived at the TEC campus - after many weekends of home base study - for their in-resident instruction.
During the TEC's 45th Anniversary celebrations, airmen dedicated Building 401 with a long overdue official name: "Wingman Hall."
Officials at the Air National Guard Readiness Center also named three TEC airmen as its best "Airmen of the Quarter."
Off the campus, TEC instructors took their training and education on the road to bring Airman Leadership School to Indiana and the Instructor Certification Course to Massachusetts.
The TEC's staff, alumni and friends bid thanks and farewell to Chief Master Sergeant Donald E. Felch on his retirement. A change in leadership also occurred as Chief Master Sgt. Thomas K. Stoudt became the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center's 13th commandant in October.
By late November, as the calendar was drawing down, Col. Tim Cathcart, TEC commander, offered his perspective on the accomplishments of 2013 and the challenges ahead:
Q: What have been the significant accomplishments for the TEC this year?
Cathcart: The real highlight was our 45th anniversary commemoration. Over the course of those 45 years, we've had at least 70,000 service members come through the campus - that's a lot of training and education!
Q: You have spent much of the year dealing with fiscal challenges. What will be your focus to carry TEC over similar hurdles?
Cathcart: There will always be ups and downs with resources, and we never have everything we need given all the requirements. So the main thing is to keep the team focused on our boss' priorities and doing our best every day for the airmen we support.
Q: What is the TEC's progress regarding the expansion of satellite EPME and its growing high definition, high-bit-rate, two-way video broadcasting?
Cathcart: For nearly 20 years, we've delivered enlisted professional military education via a live one-way satellite broadcast cable-TV channel at remote bases. It's been a tremendously valuable way to deliver in-resident quality education at a significant cost savings, plus it gives flexibility to those Air National Guard members who cannot take six weeks from their civilian employers to attend the regular in-resident course. We're getting ready to take this to the next level, and that's a high-definition, high-bitrate, high-framerate two-way "Video Tele Training" or VTT capability. We're very excited about posturing the TEC for the next 20 years leveraging this capability.
Q: The TEC had international students taking courses here this year. Can we expect to see more international uniforms on campus next year?
Cathcart: We've been hosting Canadian students here for years, but we expanded our international student base this year by hosting Bulgarian students. As an added bonus, Tennessee is the partner state for Bulgaria, in the National Guard's State Partnership Program, so we were able to put Tennessee Air National Guard students in the same flights as the Bulgarians, which helped build those critical relationships and cross-cultural understanding.
Q: The TEC worked with the National Guard's LaVern E. Weber Professional Education Center in Little Rock, Ark., this summer. Can we expect see to similar collaborations in 2014?
Cathcart: Absolutely. The Army National Guard's Professional Education Center, or PEC, is one of our key partners. By working together on a number of projects, we are able to reduce costs, share resources and staff, and work together on common areas of interest. It's just one of the ways we strive to work smarter and leaner into the uncertain future.
Q: The TEC celebrated its 45th anniversary this year. What changes will the next five years bring?
Cathcart: At the TEC, our mission is to work hard and ensure we provide every service member with the best possible training and education so America's airmen are fully ready to execute their state and federal missions. While we can guess at some of the possible changes, at the end of the day we will do what we do best: prepare airmen to support their communities, defend the homeland, and go around the globe taking care of our nation.