AFA NEWS: AETC to Focus on Next-Gen Tech When Recruiting Airmen, Guardians (Updated)

By Mikayla Easley

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Recruiting and developing superior software developers, data scientists and AI engineers will be at the core of the Department of the Air Force's future education and training, according to a top official.

“The airmen and guardians we have today are not the airmen and guardians we’re going to need going forward,” Air Education and Training Command Commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb said Sept. 22 during a panel at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

While the department has a long history of training pilots, maintainers and intelligence personnel, embracing next-generation technologies to attract future talent and advance the Air and Space Forces is at the “heart of force development," he said.

AETC is already making progress in evolving its training and education to include more technological innovations, Webb said, adding that in the future Air Force occupational specialty codes will likely migrate to assignments that make sense in a more digital Air Force.

When asked about the competition with the commercial sector in attracting and retaining potential airmen and guardians interested in these fields, Webb emphasized the importance of early recruitment and upfront investment.

“It is incumbent on [Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly] and I to carry the flag towards investing in this kind of talent in these areas ... because what we’re talking about here is recruitment even in the very early stages," Webb said.

Wanting to have a more robust relationship with the tech industry is not just a priority at the training level of the Air and Space Forces, but is a department-wide interest.

“The Department of the Air Force isn’t taking enough advantage of the intellectual capital and expertise that is available to both forces,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said Sept. 20 during a speech at the conference. He added that the services would “be doing more to bring those capabilities onto the team to help us address our most pressing operational requirements.”

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly indicated that Lt. Gen. Webb made a reference to Gen. Mark Kelly in his remarks. Webb was referring to Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly.

Topics: Air Force News