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Conquering the BEAST

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- If you've been keeping up with the Air Force news lately, it becomes quite evident; it's not your Mom and Dad's Air Force anymore. They say the one thing you can count on in life is change and change has come. For us "old timers," the six weeks of Basic Military Training we endured is gone, now replaced with an intensive eight and a half week training curriculum that will better prepare our Airmen for the challenges they may encounter on the 21st century battlefield. 

At any given time, Airmen deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as other places find themselves in jobs intended for Soldiers and Marines. This used to be called "In Lieu Of" or ILU and is now known as "Joint Expeditionary Tasking" or JET. Call it what you may, today's Airmen are being asked to accomplish missions they have little experience with or training for. 

At the heart of this new BMT program is a new complex they call the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, the BEAST. It focuses on expeditionary skills such as weapons training, dealing with improvised explosive devices, and basic defense skills for ensuring survival of the base as well as one's own skin. Think of it as an Operational Readiness Exercise, but by design, even more intensive for a trainee. Trainees take full responsibility for the day to day operation of their "base" during the four-day exercise. The objective is to test the Airman's ability to think, react, succeed, fail, improve, and ultimately build the skills and confidence they will need during future deployments.
We currently have trainees from Joe Foss Field undergoing this new training. It certainly will be interesting to listen to their experiences and even more notable, watching how they react during their first ORE here on base. It may seem "old hat" to them by then and they very well may be ready to accept greater wartime responsibilities than many have in the past returning from Basic Military Training. I encourage all supervisors and commanders to visit with those who have conquered the BEAST and returned to the 114th to begin their careers. 

Change? Not so much. Let's call it progress, for change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change.