The Air Force activated its first unit dedicated solely to training the service’s ground component on Thursday. The Battlefield Airmen Training Group at JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, will be composed of five new training squadrons that will be activated later this summer and streamline training for the service’s ground forces—combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen, and tactical air control party airmen, according to a June 2 release. It is a subordinate unit of the 37th Training Wing and replaces the 342nd Training Squadron. The replacement of the the 342nd comes after its commander, Lt. Col. William Schroeder, was killed by a student in an April murder-suicide. The new group will be spread across eight squadrons and detachments in seven different states. Col. Ronald Stenger, the inaugural commander of the BATG, said the creation of the unit allows “battlefield airmen leaders to lead battlefield airmen training across the entire enterprise,” according to the release.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.