Airman 1st Class Timothy Kantorak seeks guidance from Staff Sgt. Thomas Locke, 66th Training Squadron military training leader on Nov. 5, 2010, at the receiving survival, evasion, resistance and escape technical training school dormitory at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Airman Kantorak is attending the SERE tech school as a part of his requirements as a C-130 loadmaster. Once he completes training here, he will move on to Pensacola, Fla. for water survival training and then to his duty station at Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Ohio, with the 910th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard)
Survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) graduates check in with Staff Sgt. Thomas Locke, 66th Training Squadron military training leader, to review their plans for departure Nov. 5, 2010, at the SERE technical training school dormitory at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The 66th TRS falls under the 336th Training Group. The 336th TRS is a tenant unit at Fairchild responsible for the majority of SERE training in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard)
by Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
11/15/2010 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Imagine being responsible for counseling, mentoring and being an example to approximately 2,000 new Airmen a year. Imagine these Airmen coming from all walks of life, yet they need the same formal training to integrate into military life. Imagine having to be familiar with 10 different career fields, none of which are your own.
For military training leaders at Fairchild's 66th Training Squadron, they don't just imagine it all. They live it and love it.
"I just can't speak highly enough about them," Airman 1st Class Charles Morton, technical training school student, said of his MTLs at the 66th TRS. "Here at Fairchild they have been very helpful and are extremely personable. I don't hesitate to go to them for anything whether it be for my personal life or questions about the military."
The 66th TRS is part of the 336th Training Group, a tenant unit at Fairchild responsible for the majority of survival, evasion, resistance and escape training in the Air Force. Five military training leaders fall under the group and oversee the aircrew, battlefield and SERE Airmen going through the courses here.
Along with guiding Airman through their training, the five military training leaders help new Airmen adjust to the Air Force during their transition from basic military training through:
·Teaching military bearing, standards and behavior
·Scheduling and conducting military training functions
·Informing the students of resources available to them as new Airman
To signify their important role, MTLs wear a blue aiguillette on their left shoulder as an identifier.
However, this duty is more than just wearing a braided blue rope; it's about knowing as much as they possibly can about the Air Force and the Airmen who run it because the more they know the better they can help, Sergeant Locke explained.
"They are an immediate link to help you get things done," Airman Morton said of the MTLs. "It's important to have a supervisor directly over you to make sure you're meeting Air Force standards."
"We don't expect the Airmen to be able to take care of everything," Staff Sgt. Thomas Locke added. "But sometimes they don't even know what's available to them, so we're here to assist them and integrate them into the military so they can make good decisions based on what the military needs."
Sergeant Locke is an MTL with the 66th TRS. So far, he has overseen approximately 1,000 new battlefield and aircrew Airman who need to go through various SERE training courses.
There are two types of students who attend any of the seven courses offered here:
Airmen who hope to go on to become SERE specialists, and Airmen who require elements of SERE training for their aircrew or battlefield role.
Most Airmen at other tech schools go through the same routine: wake up early, march to school, study hard, workout and do it again the next day. But here the MTLs and students do things a bit differently, said Master Sgt. Daniel Hill, 66th Training Squadron military training leader flight chief.
"Other tech schools typically have more people, a structured schedule and students going into similar Air Force specialties," he said. "We might have Airmen in classroom training one week, in the field one week and in resistance training the next week. Some students will go through water survival while another class goes through the joint personnel recovery course."
The MTLs not only have to be in tune with different schedules for different Airmen, they also have to monitor the next step of each student's careers.
·They have to keep track of which Airmen have or haven't been to tech school for their AFSCs
·Where the Airmen will go after this
·What SERE courses they need
·If they're aircrew, what aircraft they will be assigned to.
The MTLs go through unique means to understand what their Airmen are going through.
"Unlike any other tech school that I know of, we actually go through the training," Sergeant Locke explained. "Because we go through the training, we know exactly what their schedule is like, so we can empathize with them and help them better."
"In my specific situation there were times I had to see a medic, but didn't want to miss training," Airman Morton added. "The MTLs talked to both my training instructors and doctors to figure out an appropriate time to be seen by the medical staff without having to repeat the missed training," added Airman Morton.
MTLs are every enlisted Airman's bridge into the Air Force. At Fairchild, they support Airmen going into one of ten different career fields. MTLs everywhere are ambassadors of the Air Force for the next generation of Airmen who will "Aim High ... Fly, Fight, Win."