AFROTC cadets get ready for a flight on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, March 19, 2018. USAF photo by A1C Adam R. Shanks.
MacDill AFB, Fla, this week brought in about 1,300 students from eight schools in the Tampa area to show the Air Force mission in a new effort aimed at increasing the quality of schooling around bases and giving more insight into the military to help bolster recruitment.
During the March 21 “STEAM” day—for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics—students went on board a KC-135, and saw other displays of military technology. Two days earlier, the base hosted more than 20 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Miami University in Ohio for a “flying classroom” on board a C-17.
“We want to partner with schools to help share our experiences and let students know that if they work hard, there is a place for them on our team,” Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Carlton Everhart said in a release. “Partnering with schools to develop everything from classrooms in the sky, to getting our airmen into school classrooms, will build interest and enthusiasm in our Air Force.”
The revamped outreach by AMC is based on feedback from airmen across the command that education is lacking in areas around military bases. The shortfalls in the quality of education impact the quality of life for military families, AMC spokesman Col. Chris Karns said. By holding these events regularly, the command is showing it is interest in addressing issues in education
“Rather than relying on accepting the status quo, this is a way to be a better partner to the schools, a way to hopefully bring about positive change, and to start dialogue on an issue that is of importance to military families,” Karns said.
Additionally, there is a disconnect between the public in non-military schools about military life, so outreach can educate the public on what airmen actually do, Karns said.
The command wants to have “flying classrooms” or other educational events at every wing this year, and make it easier for local students to immediately apply for internships on bases. The command will track this outreach, and is looking to provide regular reports to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on its progress.
The quality of education around military bases as become a priority for military leadership as a whole, with Wilson, along with Army Secretary Mark Esper and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, writing a letter in February to the nation’s governors urging them to improve education offerings around bases. Military officials will consider the quality of local schools in basing decisions as a way to help improve the quality of life for military families, the secretaries wrote.