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Leadership committed to safe training environment

7/6/2012 -- 7/6/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Parents of basic trainees want to know, future airmen want to know and Col. Eric Axelbank, commander of the 37th Training Wing wants them to know what measures are in place at Air Force Basic Military Training to ensure trainees have a safe and productive training environment.

"I am deeply committed to providing a safe, secure and highly effective training environment in BMT and this will continue to endure as my top priority. I offer my assurance that the atmosphere in BMT today reflects the U.S. Air Force's Core Values of Integrity, Service Before Self and Excellence in all we do," said Col Eric Axelbank, Commander of the 37th Training Wing.

That commitment is strong enough to approach the training program from both the trainee angle and the Military Training Instructor angle. For the trainees it starts within the first three days.

The training group commander and an interdisciplinary team, including the Judge Advocate, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and a Chaplain, among others, brief all trainees within 72 hours of their arrival on their rights and responsibilities to report any form of misconduct.

"I tell (the trainees), 'You are my neighborhood watch -- each and every one of you,'" said Col. Glenn Palmer, 737th Training Group commander. "If there is any MTI misconduct going on, report it. If it's happening to you, report it. If you observe it happening; be a good wingman and report it."

To make it easier to report any kind of complaint, from laundry problems to unprofessional conduct, more than 40 additional comment boxes were installed in locations where trainees identified they would feel more comfortable using them. The ones located in dining facilities are still available and the new boxes are in places out of the direct line of sight of an MTI in the stairwells leading to dormitory areas. Trainees pass those boxes several times every day.

Comments are collected at regular intervals and the training group commander reads every urgent comment sheet within 24 hours. Any allegation of MTI misconduct results in immediate action: the MTI is removed from his or her flight, a no-contact order is issued and the MTI campaign hat is removed pending a full investigation.

"The vast majority of our almost 500 MTIs at basic training are great Americans performing a demanding duty with outstanding results," said Palmer.

Palmer has implemented training to give Military Training Instructors more deliberate development in their career paths.

The Air Force is overhauling all formal MTI training courses to emphasize MTI behavioral competencies tied to Air Force Core Values and Air Force ethics. New courses under development for implementation this year will include robust training exercises and written tests to measure understanding and commitment to appropriate values and beliefs which drive MTI behavior.

In the meantime, vignettes on professional conduct have already been incorporated into the courses. The conversation is not limited to the formal classroom scenarios but professional conduct is part of a constant, open communication at the MTI school.

"Every opportunity we have in the school now, we ask them (MTI students) thought provoking questions," said Tech. Sgt. Chrissie Slifer, Instructor Supervisor for the military training instructor school.

From educating the trainees to increasing the educational opportunities for the MTIs, leadership has stepped forward in an aggressive manner to make sure BMT is achieving the training standard of excellence.

And at the end of the day, that commitment is evident in the people and the mission.

"We work hard out here because we love what we do," said Slifer. "We care about trainees and we care about the Air Force and that continues -- that never stopped for us."