Seeds of Innovation: AETC Commander Visits 97 AMW

  • Published
  • By Mr. Kenny Scarle
  • 97 AMW PA

The commander of Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast and his wife Joni Kwast visited various squadrons and organizations at Altus AFB, Dec. 17-18, 2018. The tour was designed to showcase the innovation and modernization of training at the base, as well as the care of its Airmen and families.

“This is really a gateway to the rest of the Air Force; so everybody comes through Altus Air Force Base who goes out to the force of the Mobility Air Forces,” said Kwast. “And as they come here, they get to see and are influenced by this innovative spirit and all the things that are happening, and they go out as disciples for how we can change the future of the Air Force to be better.

Kwast’s tour consisted of a visit to the base operations and weather flights, the KC-46 Pegasus training facilities and the new 97th Security Forces Squadron Warrior Training Center. These elements showcased the overall readiness and force development at Altus AFB, established through the use of education and new technology. Kwast said this is not the only way innovation was demonstrated by the wing.

“What I saw is a whole host of ideas and innovative processes that are allowing this place to still get the mission done despite the fact that we have resource challenges,” said Kwast. “They’re also doing . . . practical things, such as the way the Security Forces are defending this base by really paying attention to how can we learn the skills we need better and cheaper and just get after it.”

The new, locally-funded 97th SFS training facility is a key example of that. It is a repurposed space designed to focus on heart-rate, decision-making, positive psychology and scenario-based training to help prepare the first responders to crisis situations in a more realistic way.

While Kwast put eyes on the Airmen and the mission at Altus AFB, Mrs. Kwast explored how the installation supports and provides for its families. She and Tammy Carney, spouse of Col. Eric Carney, 97 AMW commander, toured the Child Development, Youth and Airmen and Family Readiness Centers, along with the Armed Services YMCA, Freedom Community Center and the 97th Medical Group to get a better picture of the care of military families and dependents.

During the visit, Gen. Kwast said modernization in training is an important aspect to 21st century air power, especially through the use of new technology and developing new ways of learning.

“Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are examples where you can have a coach that helps walk you through a virtual world to learn how to do a job in a way we could never do before,” said Kwast. “We are exploring those kinds of technologies and techniques to help a human being do their job better than ever before.”

Kwast was also able to meet with several local civic partners and learn more about the strong ties Altus AFB has with Jackson County and the surrounding area.

The community here is everything people talk about,” said Kwast. “It is kind; it is compassionate; it is patriotic and it loves the Air Force and it loves the military. That’s a game changer for a base and this is really one great team – Altus and the base together can change the world.”

Kwast said the trip showed how the Mighty 97th embodies a culture of innovation and of caring for its Airmen, families and community in regards to accomplishing the mission. He said that the innovation and forward thinking mindset at Altus plays a great part in that effort.

“They have a great opportunity to change the game with regard to the way people think about innovation and technology –  to do the mission better, faster and cheaper than ever before,” said Kwast. “And I can see the seeds of that in what they’re doing.”