Going back to basics: Today's trainees tomorrow's Airmen

Chief Master Sgt. Russell Kuck, 62nd Airlift Wing chief master sergeant

Chief Master Sgt. Russell Kuck, 62nd Airlift Wing chief master sergeant

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- I just returned from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where all the command chief master sergeants from Air Mobility Command gathered for our semi-annual conference. 

While there, we were able to visit with the newest Airmen at basic military training. 

It's always good to go back to your roots. Seeing all the trainees marching around opened the flood gates of memories for me ... Things I will never forget like my old dormitory, the "motivational talks" my training instructor routinely gave my flight and how I always kept my wall locker in immaculate condition, or so I thought. 

When I remember what it was like for me to be a basic trainee 28 years ago, and when I look at what it's like to be a trainee now, I'm truly amazed. 

Though some things are the same -- Airmen still receive "motivational" talks from their TI's and learn the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do -- nowadays they don't spend so much time doing some of the more labor intensive things we did, such as meticulously folding our brown T-shirts. 

Instead, today's trainees get to roll up their shirts and spend more time learning to master weapons familiarization (i.e. handling, carrying, cleaning and firing their M-16s). The benefit so far has been an increase in marksmanship proficiency of more than 20 percent. 

When I attended "Warrior Week" I had a chance to see trainees learning hand-to-hand combat and setting up security measures for defensive fighting positions. 

During my trip, I also learned that trainees will now come into the Air Force already fit-to-fight. They are going to start doing fitness testing at the beginning of BMT. 

If trainees don't pass, they will end up in a remedial fitness flight. After two weeks, if they still don't meet Air Force standards, they will be processed for separation. The fitness culture is truly embraced at BMT. 

Today's trainees are tomorrow's warrior Airmen -- the future of the Air Force. It's refreshing to know the warrior ethos is ingrained in our Airmen the moment they arrive at BMT. 

If you're ever in San Antonio I encourage you to visit BMT, and I'm confident you will walk away with a sense of "Hooah!"