JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited with members of the Battlefield Airmen Training Group and served as the reviewing official and guest speaker for Air Force Basic Military Training graduation at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland June 15-16.
“The nation relies on us to provide global vision, reach and power,” Goldfein said. “We sometimes forget that every 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, somewhere on the globe, we have an aircraft take off or land 24/7, 365 days of the year, to deliver critical supplies or personnel when and where they are needed.”
During the first day of his visit, Goldfein met many Battlefield Airmen and toured the physical training pad and classrooms as well as Chaparral Pool facility. Goldfein then spoke to BA TG senior leaders on future upgrades and improvements on training and facilities within the group. He also took time to visit the Schroeder Drop Zone, dedicated in memory of Lt. Col. William Schroeder who was fatally shot while protecting his teammates during an on-base shooting incident.
“All of the missions they perform – combat control, tactical air control party, pararescue, combat weather – these Battlefield Airmen are operating in some of the most dangerous places on the planet,” he said. “To bring that training together here at JBSA-Lackland is a move to ensure we build on that synergy of what these Airmen do and ensure they have the very best training they can going forward.
“We have a lot of work to do going ahead and I am here to take a look at not only the training, but the level of personnel in the training environment and the quality of facilities,” he added. “It was great for me to get eyes on and I am going back with a list of things to ensure these Airmen, who will be put in harm’s way shortly after they finish their training, have the tools, equipment and training they need to succeed and that we take care of their families while they are gone.”
Goldfein had a personal encounter with Battlefield Airmen years earlier that has left a lasting impression on him.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for some incredible Airmen who risked everything to yank me out of a bad situation some years ago,” Goldfein recalled. “Their motto is ‘these things we do so others may live.’ Who knew on that night back in 1999 that they would be rescuing someone who would become the chief of staff for the Air Force? I certainly didn’t.”
“It was an honor to spend time with Battlefield Airmen yesterday,” he said. “I wear these stars for them.”
Goldfein also had the opportunity to participate in BMT graduation. As the reviewing official for 526 graduates, Goldfein led the oath of enlistment for the Air Force’s newest Airmen.
“As I was watching the parade today, I was once again thinking of that great quote from Hap Arnold during World War II: ‘The problem with air power is that we make it look too easy.’ That actually describes very well what this team does every week,” Goldfein stated. “I imagine there are many parents who didn’t recognize their Airmen and the transformation they made. To be able to be the reviewing official and be able to participate in one of these many ceremonies and welcome them into the Air Force is something I won’t forget.”
Goldfein also had a few words of advice, for the graduates and all Airmen.
“For Airmen, it starts and ends with character, and once you’ve got that right – once you are on that journey – then it is all about competence,” he continued. “We are expected to deliver air and space power, to own the high ground, to ensure that we have freedom to maneuver and freedom from attack for both us and the joint team. That combination of character and competence is what our nation requires from each of us as Airmen.”
The BA TG and 737th Training Group are both subordinate units of the 37th Training Wing. About 39,000 Airmen graduate from BMT each year. The 37th TRW is the Air Force’s largest training wing and JBSA-Lackland is the only site for basic training. JBSA-Lackland is referred to as the “Gateway to the Air Force.”