Coronavirus Having Little Impact on USAF Training

This story was updated on March 17 at 11:31 p.m. EST to include a Facebook video from the AETC Command Team.

Most Air Force training is continuing despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may look a little different, as officials work to mitigate coronavirus exposure.

“Force health protection is our top priority and we will continually be monitoring the current COVID-19 situation and our recruiting, training, and education operations daily to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our Airmen and maintain mission readiness,” Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Brad Webb said in a release. “Calm is contagious. We are making every decision, and implementing mitigation tactics where necessary, with the commitment to preserving the ability of our servicemen and women to provide for national defense and current worldwide military missions.”

Although response to the outbreak is dynamic and may change as the situation evolves, here’s what the pandemic means for Air Force training and education as of March 17.

Team – Our AETC training plan for BMT, technical training & flying training has been rapidly evolving & right now, we…

Posted by AETC Command Team on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Basic Military Training

BMT operations are considered mission-essential. Training that is already underway will continue as usual, and no flights are being consolidated, AETC said.

Friday graduations have been shifted to Thursdays, and while ceremonies are still off-limits to guests, they’ll be broadcast live from the 37th Training Wing’s Facebook page, with the command “actively exploring” alternative ways to let Airmen’s loved ones tune in via the Internet, AETC said.

Technical, Flying, and Pipeline Training

Technical training and flying training operations are also mission essential, according to the command.

Individual commanders will decide whether off-base travel is permitted for Airmen in tech school “based on the current health protection conditions and DOD guidance,” AETC said.

Flying training students will continue training as scheduled, and permanent changes of station and temporary duty assignments “for aircrew students and career enlisted aviators” aren’t slated to change, the command added.

“Additionally, all technical training and undergraduate flying training students will continue to out-process after graduation and travel to their first duty station upon completion of training,” the release stated.

Pipeline training, such as water survival, centrifuge, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) will “continue unless previously noted,” though the way training is conducted may be altered to minimize trainees’ exposure risk, according to the command.

Officer Training School, ROTC, and Air University

OTS and ROTC have also been deemed mission essential at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., so “longer duration courses such as the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air War College, and Air Command and Staff College will continue as scheduled,” AETC said.

Air University students who went on TDY to attend the institution—including those studying at the First Sergeant Academy and Airmen pursuing professional military education—will be sent back to their home stations, if it hasn’t already happened.

“Where possible, students will continue their courses virtually and receive credit,” AETC said.

AETC is still determining travel guidance for all Airmen who were slated “to cross train and attend training.” The command said that information will be distributed as soon as it’s available.

“This is a rapidly evolving, fluid situation,” Webb said in the release. “We need your patience as we work through every scenario so we can provide you with the best information possible.”