Training before boot camp

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Liddicoet
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 446th Airlift Wing’s Development and Training Flight on Joint Base Lewis-McChord plays an integral role in shaping the future of the Air Force.

The D&TF has been operating for seven years, teaching new recruits the ins and outs of military life to prepare them for the rigors of Basic Military Training and beyond.

Rainier Wing recruiters bring in the new recruits, and the D&TF is an integral part of the recruiting process here.

“We continuously work with the applicants while they are in the DT&F to make sure they meet with their recruiter at least once a month in person,” explained Senior Master Sgt. Lark Dahl, a senior recruiter here. “That way, we can make sure their needs are being met during the waiting period between enlisting and leaving for BMT.”

Reducing attrition during BMT is a key element to the program.

“Our primary purpose is to reduce the attrition rate at BMT,” said Master Sgt. Scott Templin, wing coordinator of the D&TF, “And it’s been over 100 days since our last discharge.”

The program has roughly 25-30 trainees at any given time and students spend about six to eight months in the D&TF before entering into basic training. During that time they are mentored on a wide variety of military knowledge and skills to prepare them.

“We try to introduce a curriculum that teaches them about our core values and military culture,” said Templin. “We cover topics about Air Force insignia, Air Force History, coping with stress and wingmen culture.”

In addition to teaching trainees in the classroom setting, Templin also focuses on ensuring that his prospective Airmen are able to meet the fitness standards set by the Air Force by administering a physical fitness test at least once a month.

While the Development and Training Flight’s success rate is high, one of the chief causes of attrition is failure to meet fitness standards.

“It’s been 100 days since our last BMT discharge,” explained Templin. “We all have blind spots and some come in not fully aware of Air Force standards.”

Offering more than just his own activities and lectures, Templin also brings in a several guest speakers to help reinforce some of the skills necessary to success in BMT and the Air Force.

“We’ve brought in wing mental health providers, first sergeants, and chaplains to speak here and show our trainees different kinds of strategies and perspectives for coping with adversity,” said Templin.

For the trainees in the program, the DT&F has offered a great deal of opportunity.

“This has been uplifting,” said Michelle Kekoa-Oshiro, a D&TF trainee. “It has given me hope in building a great career. It’s showing us that we can do it.”