Military News

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Student Flight changes better prepare trainees for basic training

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th AW Public Affairs

5/20/2015 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- The 109th Airlift Wing Student Flight program recently saw some big changes, including more structure, more physical training and more guidance - all to better prepare trainees for their first step in becoming an Airman at Basic Military Training.

At the behest of Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, 109th Airlift Wing command chief, the Chief's Council, along with Force Support Squadron leadership, assessed the program and found that many trainees were leaving for Basic Military Training not as prepared as they should have been.

The chiefs worked closely with Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Archibald, Base Training Manager, who oversees the program, in creating a more structured program with the primary goal to "ensure 100-percent graduation rate at BMT," said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Princiotto of the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron. The program is now structured to follow basic training as much as possible with physical training, terminology, structure, scheduling and memory work. It also includes four phases, from the first for the newest trainees, to the fourth for those Airmen who have graduated Basic Military Training but are waiting to go to technical school, also called a "break in training."

"It's better that they're doing it this way now," said Airman 1st Class Gregory Discipio who is currently in Phase 4 of the program. He graduated basic training in September, and once he completes technical school, will be part of the Services Flight. "If you're in break in training, it helps to stay in that mentality."

"The training they receive is really dependent on the trainee to learn," said Master Sgt. Garrett Cowsert, student flight cadre. "We go over some basic information like reporting statements and the basics of facing movements, but push hard for them to learn a lot of memory work.  We educate them about their PT responsibilities and do PT, but encourage them to be proactive on their own the other 28 days out the month until we see them again."

The flight now has cadre working with them every Unit Training Assembly. Along with the team of three cadre, is a chief who acts as a "liaison for the Student Flight and the cadre and the rest of the wing to remove any roadblocks," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Schaible, 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who is the current chief assigned to the flight. The goal will be for each team to work in six-month rotations. They needed a strong group for the first team of cadre, and reached out to Cowsert, who had been a cadre with Student Flight years before; Master Sgt. Marlene Frankovic, who had served as a first sergeant; and Tech. Sgt. Michael Crouse, a former full-time Stratton Base Honor Guard member.

"The cadre are a good balance," said Trainee James McPartlin who has been in the flight for seven months and is set to leave for basic training in July. "They're tough on us when they need to be, but they're also not overbearing. I think I'll be genuinely ready for basic training."

"Even though we are hard on them, they get it," said Crouse of the trainees. "We're setting them up for success. It's not personal. We're not yelling at them because we don't like them, we're just trying to set a foundation so they can maximize their success."

It may be a little too early to tell how successful the program will be for basic training since it's so new, but the cadre said they are already receiving positive feedback from the trainees. Crouse also said the flight's camaraderie among each other is great. "They really help each other out; we're teaching them to be good wingmen, and most of them already have been," he said.

Cowsert said the success of the program is dependent on the support of all of those within the wing.

"This program will only continue to grow with the support and dedication of those of us here at the 109th who want to help develop professional Airmen and get involved," he said. "We need our First Six to help come and teach some of the education pieces that are being built into the program; we need our senior noncommissioned officers to become cadre and use their time and unique experiences to help mentor the trainees."

"It is the perfect time to breathe new life into the Student Flight program with the release of the Air National Guard Ancillary Training Program," said Giaquinto. "Student Flight members are a part of this wing, and they deserve to be set up for success as they start their military career.  With this new program, they are going to get just that!"

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