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Missile maintenance school adds to curriculum

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen 1st Clas Michael Fuerte, left, and David Reynolds, both technical school students at the 532nd Training Squadron here, conduct hands-on training for the environmental control system of a missile launch facility. Missile maintenance technical training now takes place entirely at Vandenberg since the school house integrated electronic principles training Jan. 5. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Vanessa Valentine)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen 1st Clas Michael Fuerte, left, and David Reynolds, both technical school students at the 532nd Training Squadron here, conduct hands-on training for the environmental control system of a missile launch facility. Missile maintenance technical training now takes place entirely at Vandenberg since the school house integrated electronic principles training Jan. 5. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Vanessa Valentine)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Missile maintenance technical training now takes place entirely at Vandenberg since an integration plan was put in place Jan. 5. 

A section of the missile maintainer's training curriculum is a general electronic principles course. Until recently the course was taught to Airmen in a number of different career fields at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. 

Airmen had to complete the electronic principles course before coming to Vandenberg to finish up their job specific training. The Air Education and Training Command did not find this way of conducting training to be very efficient. 

"Integrating the electronics principles course into the missile maintenance course at Vandenberg inevitably saves the Air Force money by not having to spend it shipping the Airmen from (Basic Military Training) to two other training bases; now all the training is here," said Barbara Lefebvre, a resource advisor from the 532nd Training Squadron. "We hope the change in the curriculum will increase the students retention, because the training here is more applicable to what they will be doing in their careers as missile maintainers." 

The curriculum changes were made possible by a collaboration of efforts from many different commands, training managers and instructors. 

Instructors are working hard to make the change in the curriculum run smoothly here. They have had to reconstruct everything that is used in the classrooms as teaching tools, from designing new slide presentations to making new workbooks for the student Airmen. 

"Our goal is to educate our Airmen with the knowledge they need to make sure that all Air Force missiles are mission capable," said Staff Sgt. Derik New, a missile maintenance instructor from 532nd TRS. "The change in the curriculum also will benefit the Airmen because the Community College of the Air Force has recently added more semester hours toward an associate degree upon completion, making the course more substantial." 

The change may also change aspects of the atmosphere at Vandenberg, making it feel more like a training base. 

"These Airmen will get their first real introduction to the Air Force here at Vandenberg," said Tech. Sgt. Isaiah Whittaker, a training manager from the 532nd TRS. "The curriculum shift changes the dynamics for the instructors here because they now have to be more aware of the adjustment period that Airmen go through. Having the Airmen come straight out of BMT will affect the overall culture of Vandenberg. There will be more mentoring opportunities for everybody in the Vandenberg family." 

The culture of excellence starts here for the student Airmen and it is up to the Vandenberg community to continue to honor the tradition by setting the proper example for these Airmen new to the Air Force. 

"When you see formations of Airmen walking along, which is not typically seen on every base, it reminds you that we are a disciplined force, we have traditions that we adhere to and we have to remember those traditions," said Maj. Suzanne Sauls, chief of the Commander's Action Group from the 14th Air Force. "That goes back to being a part of a culture of excellence; excellence starts from the beginning. The school house here represents the beginning, Vandenberg's other base missions represent the end state. The base population affects where we start, and where we start ultimately affects where we will end."