In a year of golden jubilee, the Air National Guard I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s staff offered an extensive list of accomplishments for consideration in its 2018 year in review.
Instructors, campus operations, and continuing education Airmen boasted a busy time, and at one point, mid-summer, TEC marked five decades as a center of learning.
Airmen kicked off anniversary celebrations six month’s out, with a succession of video shout-outs, historical photographs, social media, and history features. Past and current staff and instructors, as well as alumni, gathered inside the activities building on July 20, where the first commander, retired Col. Edmund Morrisey, and current Commander, Col. Kerry Lovely, bookended more than 140 past and present staff in attendance. Many more watched the event live online, through a Warrior Network television broadcast.
With the celebration deemed a success, campus operations Airmen redirected their efforts to set up and host one of their most extensive training workshops, when 439 force support squadron Airmen arrived in August from all 54 states and territories. Senior leaders and career field managers lauded those efforts as well as TEC’s amenities. Attendees filled the Wilson Hall gymnasium for the big briefings and walked to the McKinley Hall classrooms for their small breakouts. They came just as the athletic field reopened with artificial turf. Air Guard human resource advisers, first sergeants, and Air Force digital publishing managers held smaller workshops, among others.
The Support Group reopened Vitzthum Hall, also known as Building 406, in February, after a $5.1 million, one-year remodel. The renewed dormitory’s bed space helped billeting staff service 11,652 campus guests by the close of the fiscal year. The installation of an elevator improved the campus’s capabilities in billeting disabled guests, among the new walls, carpet, lights, and furniture.
Cyber Operations managers submitted that their major undertaking was the Air Guard’s Windows 10 software conversion. They updated the campus’s 100-plus computer workstations with new operating systems. Cyber managers also looked closely at the campus’s Wi-Fi. They worked with contractors during the summer to make significant improvements to network connectivity and dependability.
By December, support group and base civil engineer managers watched contractors bulldoze asphalt in the student parking lot to make way for a 2,400 square foot billeting office, which they said will increase dormitory and laundry space as well as improve operations for students, guests, and staff.
The Professional Continuing Education Division’s production team produced a series of entertaining and informational videos for students’ and guests’ orientation. They published them on social media and on the public website. They included information on base amenities, billeting, student uniforms, fitness facilities, and the Warrior Network.
The Air National Guard Cares outreach team assigned here produced seven highly-polished videos, which focused on drug testing, suicide prevention, and other resiliency and health topics. They launched new web and social media pages, and they designed colorful Airman-readiness banners and marketing graphics for the 91 wings and geographically separated units.
Live-streamed graduations, senior leaders’ Air Guard-wide, televised town hall meetings, as well as students’ and guests’ video shout-outs, kept the broadcasters and engineers further active and innovative. They live-streamed graduations on TEC’s Facebook account, which were watched by hundreds of family members and friends.
Live workstation broadcasts were another innovative capability offered by the TEC-TV Warrior Network, which units gradually linked to and watched in their offices as a useful and cost-effective alternative to attending workshops and events.
Above and beyond the television studios, Airmen and engineers took expertise and broadcast technology on the road, to support the 300-plus Senior Leadership Conference in Wisconsin, the 400-plus Enlisted Leadership Symposium in West Virginia, and the 200-plus National Guard Bureau Diversity Workshop in Arkansas. Late in the year, they staffed an information booth on broadcast technology for the Federal Government Distant Learning Association at the national Video Expo in Washington, D.C.
Continuing education instructors and curriculum developers implemented a professional development program. Those 17 hours of the newly designed curriculum included time management, writing, public speaking, and leadership, among other subjects. About 2,400 total force students filled their new classrooms in McKinley Hall. An additional 84 Airmen graduated from the Instructor Certification Program. Computer-based training developers estimated that 25,000 more service members had completed a TEC-developed and -maintained distributive learning curriculum online. The EPR bullet-writing course remained a popular offering in classrooms as well as in on-demand videos at TEC’s public website.
The Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center reported 1,894 EPME graduates for its fiscal year. More than 50 percent of their staff had turned over via reassignments or retirements during that time, including the Commandant, Operations Superintendent, and Director of Education.
The EPME center welcomed nine international students – four Bulgarians, three Canadians, and two Jordanians. They conducted a total force, super-sized Airmen Leadership School in July with 250 Airmen. They also exchanged instructors with other academies in temporary duty assignments as a means of sharing expertise, best practices, and comradery. EPME students volunteered more than 4,000 hours in the Knoxville-area, as well as donated hundreds of units of blood to the regional blood center, they said.
By December, Chief Master Sgt. Steven Durrance arrived as the 16th commandant, following the August reassignment of Chief Master Sgt. Winfield Hinkley. The EPME center graduated an unscheduled NCO Academy class just four days before Christmas, which was made up of more than 180 students displaced by Hurricane Michael.
Another arrival was Ms. Jennifer Thomas, one of TEC’s newest, full-time civilian staff members. Ms. Thomas began setting up her office and training programs in August as the campus’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Manager/Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC).
TEC closed 2018, the recipient of two major unit awards — the Air Force Association’s Total Force Team Award and an 11th U.S. Air Force Organizational Excellence Award. Video production and public affairs staff were top winners in the National Guard Bureau and U.S. Air Force media contests. Airmen gained additional high honors and recognition as the Air National Guard Readiness Center’s outstanding Airmen – three Airmen announced in January were the 2017 Airmen of the Year, and one Airman earned Airman of the Quarter. The center’s off-duty softball team – the Flying Aces – finished their season with a winning, 4-3 record.
With the year coming to a close, Colonel Lovely answered some emailed questions about the year, as well as offered her insight on 2019, and beyond.
Q: What were TEC’s notable accomplishments this year?
A: Wow, not sure where to start. We’ve had so many great accomplishments. Perhaps celebrating our 50th Anniversary was most notable. This event not only highlighted our past but also how we’ve changed throughout the years to ensure we provide what the field needs as far as education and training.
Q: Speaking of accomplishments, you and the staff did a lot of morning workouts together this year. What’s with that?
A: LOL! I talk a lot about balance in our lives. If I, and my leadership team, don’t make time for fitness, how do I expect others to do so? A secondary benefit I found is, I get to spend time with the staff outside the office. It definitely increased comradery and teamwork.
Q: TEC changed its mission and vision statements this year. Can you comment on that?
A: SecDef published a new Defense Strategy, and the Director of the ANG updated his Lines of Effort. We realized our Mission and Vision statements needed to reflect the focus of our Senior Leaders. So we made some changes to ensure we captured their vision.
Q: When looking at the student throughput, some states and units have a broader representation using the campus. Does that mean there’s room to grow?
A: Our biggest limitation is space (classroom and/or dorm). However, we have much more capability via remote systems (e.g., broadcast and or Blackboard) to grow classes.
Q: What is at the top of your training and education wish list for TEC in 2019, and beyond?
A: Happiness and health for our staff. If we have that, then we are more apt to do great things for TEC, the ANG, and ultimately the Air Force.
Q: What are some things we should know about the Air Guard’s training and education center?
A: We are not the same organization we were even 10 years ago, let alone 50. The Staff has a breadth of experience and an immense passion for the mission. We are ever-changing to meet the mission needs of the ANG across the spectrum of Enlisted PME, Functional Training, and Professional Development.
Q: Is there a prevailing sentiment or comments you’ve received from senior leaders or guest speakers that stand out about TEC?
A: Yes! Everyone is thoroughly impressed on what we do here, for the amount of space and budget. Which I believe goes back to my earlier comment regarding our staff. They truly make the difference. I’m amazed at the creative and innovated way we are moving training and education forward to meet the needs of the organization at the same time meeting the needs of our Airmen.