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AETC Issues Official COVID-19 Mission Essential Training Determination, Authorizes Travel

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Since it's been asked about and/or discussed in several different threads, I'm just going to post this here...

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AETC Issues Official COVID-19 Mission Essential Training Determination, Authorizes Travel

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Air Education and Training Command released a formal memorandum outlining the command's mission essential training determination during the coronavirus outbreak., The signed memo officially authorizes travel for recruits and Airmen who are scheduled to attend basic military training, technical training and flying training.

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC, signed the memorandum which was sent to AETC commanders and the Air Force Personnel Center March 18, 2020. 

"AETC executes the critical mission of training and preparing our servicemen and women to provide for the national defense and current worldwide military missions," Webb stated in the memorandum titled Mission Essential Determination -- Basic Military Training and Technical Training.  "Maintaining AETC's recruiting, training and education activities and pipeline is critical to the operational mission success of our commanders executing the National Security Strategy."

Per the memorandum, Webb stated AETC will continue to: "recruit and access Airmen; train candidates and enlistees in Officer Training School, ROTC and Basic Military Training; develop Airmen in Technical and Flying Training; and deliver advanced academic education such as the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College."

Webb also stated the AETC training is "mission essential" and "therefore, Airmen (officer and enlisted) assigned to these AETC training courses are mission essential and must travel. Upon graduation from this training, Airmen must move to their next duty station or follow-on training pursuant to AFPC guidelines."

To download a copy of the Mission Essential Determination -- Basic Military Training and Technical Training memorandum, click here.  Airmen with follow up questions should contact their immediate chain of command, while recruits set to travel to basic military training should contact their local recruiters for further guidance.

Related documents:

Mission Essential Determination -- Basic Military Training and Technical Training During Coronavirus Disease 2019

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Continuing BMT and OTS just sound like a really really bad idea.  Especially for BMT.  Can't expect them mitigate the stress environment too drastically.  Granted they have newer dorms now, but you are still packing a bunch of people into confined spaces, who are constantly stressed, which causes weaker immune system.  This is how virus/disease spread.  Just really not a good idea.  The healthcare system is strained as it is, why take more chances?  PCSs are not happening anyway.

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Continuing BMT and OTS just sound like a really really bad idea.  Especially for BMT.  Can't expect them mitigate the stress environment too drastically.  Granted they have newer dorms now, but you are still packing a bunch of people into confined spaces, who are constantly stressed, which causes weaker immune system.  This is how virus/disease spread.  Just really not a good idea.  The healthcare system is strained as it is, why take more chances?  PCSs are not happening anyway.

From the sounds of it pipeline PCS are still happening. So why bother with the stop movement order if 2 levels lower is just going to come out and change it?


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1 hour ago, panchbarnes said:

Continuing BMT and OTS just sound like a really really bad idea.  Especially for BMT.  Can't expect them mitigate the stress environment too drastically.  Granted they have newer dorms now, but you are still packing a bunch of people into confined spaces, who are constantly stressed, which causes weaker immune system.  This is how virus/disease spread.  Just really not a good idea.  The healthcare system is strained as it is, why take more chances?  PCSs are not happening anyway.

I don't disagree with the premise that it's not necessary, but I feel like a lot of people are not grasping the end game in all of this.  The end game is herd immunity.  The end game is 'everyone' (e.g. a large fraction) eventually becoming infected and developing immunity.  We don't need to prevent every infection, just blunt the spread out over time.

BMT and OTS are relatively closed systems.  I'd expect that they would put in further restrictions to leaving base or even the immediate training area on base during all of this.  If so, if there's transmission within the system and it's [mostly] contained, it doesn't really go against the goal.

It would be no different than the cruise ship quarantines.  If the aim was to stop every transmission they would have been quarantined in isolation rather than as a group.

Yes, the training instructors that leave base at night could become vectors, but again, we're not trying to eliminate every vector.  Just a large portion of them.  The likelihood that they'd have to suspend training in he middle of the courses due to an outbreak is another story. 

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I can see that herd immunity is inevitable and maybe the only way to get over this.

BMT is definitely not closed system.  Basic Trainees go to the mini-mall next door and the exchanges.  The DLI (Foreign military members learning English) is in very close proximity to the mini-mall and the dorms.  The Saudi students love to go bars and clubs every night in their new Mustang V8.  The inter-agency MWD training also takes place in close proximity to the mini-mall and the dorms.  Reid clinic nearby is usually packed with sick trainees as it is, can't imagine how they would handle an outbreak.  You can't practice social distance with basic trainees at Lackland, and all it takes is one.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, panchbarnes said:

I can see that herd immunity is inevitable and maybe the only way to get over this.

BMT is definitely not closed system.  Basic Trainees go to the mini-mall next door and the exchanges.  The DLI (Foreign military members learning English) is in very close proximity to the mini-mall and the dorms.  The Saudi students love to go bars and clubs every night in their new Mustang V8.  The inter-agency MWD training also takes place in close proximity to the mini-mall and the dorms.  Reid clinic nearby is usually packed with sick trainees as it is, can't imagine how they would handle an outbreak.  You can't practice social distance with basic trainees at Lackland, and all it takes is one.

Hence my statement that they would have to be restricted to the immediate training area.  The mini-mart and exchange would be off limits.  I went through field training at Lackland and the only contact I had with anyone outside the training staff, other trainees, or food service personnel, was while getting a haircut at the mini-mart.  Yes, I'm aware that the two training programs are different, but with some small policy changes and accommodations moved to the dorm area to serve the trainees in garrison, it would be possible.  

I'm not advocating for it, but I also wouldn't consider an attempt to make it work a public health hazard.  My guess is that it would prove infeasible as once infection occurred within the system training would likely have to stop.  But very few of the 18yr old trainees would end up at Reid.  They'd just transfer to a separate quarantine dorm for rest.

I'm also not sure people have a grasp of how long this process is going to take if the efforts to slow it work.  Forgoing a few BMT classes is one thing, but can the AF absorb missing 6-12 months (or more) of newly minted Airmen?  They might have no choice but to try and make it work.

Edited by Mark1

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With the recent leak that the USG is preparing for this to be an 18 month epidemic I don't think we can afford to stop training or we would lose all of our ascencions. 

The overall strategy to slow the spread isn't so much to stop people from getting it but has more to do with the ability of the medical care industry to respond. If everyone is infected over night your hospitals are going to quickly run out of beds and you will be in the position of Italy who recently announced that they are simply going to stop treating people over 80 to focus resources on people who have a better chance of survival. 

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Posted (edited)

I get it, we have to maintain readiness.  But if the DoD just issued stop-movement and encouraging people to telework to minimize service members' exposure to the virus, then why are we continuing to send new recruits into high risk environments?  Not only does this increase their chance of getting exposed, we are also launching them out to different bases for follow-on training like a disease-infected mother-ship launching spaceships to colonize different planets.  In theory, the basic trainee gets infected right before graduation, PCS undetected, gets to new base and infects new populace.  I've been to places like Sheppard, it's just another breeding grounding, only slightly better than BMT.

AETC's policy just seems to counter any USG effort to contain the spread of the virus.  I mean, we are releasing prisoners right now to prevent the spread.

But then again, it's AETC afterall, what do you really expect from them?

Edited by panchbarnes
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7 hours ago, panchbarnes said:

I get it, we have to maintain readiness.  But if the DoD just issued stop-movement and encouraging people to telework to minimize service members' exposure to the virus, then why are we continuing to send new recruits into high risk environments?  Not only does this increase their chance of getting exposed, we are also launching them out to different bases for follow-on training like a disease-infected mother-ship launching spaceships to colonize different planets.  In theory, the basic trainee gets infected right before graduation, PCS undetected, gets to new base and infects new populace.  I've been to places like Sheppard, it's just another breeding grounding, only slightly better than BMT.

AETC's policy just seems to counter any USG effort to contain the spread of the virus.  I mean, we are releasing prisoners right now to prevent the spread.

But then again, it's AETC afterall, what do you really expect from them?

You have all valid points. I don't think anyone ever saw this coming or even has the faintest clue of how to deal with it. This will be an event that defines this generation. 9/11 was the last time I saw the USG flex this much for anything. 

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Call me cynical, but I won't give senior leaders any passes.  They have been groomed since day 1 of their AF career to be in this "leadership" position.  Senior "Military Leaders" ought to know how to make the best possible decision in tough situations with a lot of uncertainties.  They have held various leadership position and key staff assignments and should have "seen it all."  Hence I can't accept the notion that "no one saw it coming."  Besides, previously there were SARS, MERS, African Swine Flu, and a couple of others viruses.  Even if the Commander hadn't seen it, his SG and Public Health SMEs should know all about it. 

Obviously I don't have all the facts, but I'm curious to know how did they arrived at this decision to continue training.  Which, I think will be reversed in a week or less.

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40 minutes ago, BashiChuni said:

but what about the timeline?

Those 12 extra students we’re gonna graduate over the next few weeks while we continue to put our families at risk is totally worth it. 

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Call me cynical, but I won't give senior leaders any passes.  They have been groomed since day 1 of their AF career to be in this "leadership" position.  Senior "Military Leaders" ought to know how to make the best possible decision in tough situations with a lot of uncertainties.  They have held various leadership position and key staff assignments and should have "seen it all."  Hence I can't accept the notion that "no one saw it coming."  Besides, previously there were SARS, MERS, African Swine Flu, and a couple of others viruses.  Even if the Commander hadn't seen it, his SG and Public Health SMEs should know all about it. 
Obviously I don't have all the facts, but I'm curious to know how did they arrived at this decision to continue training.  Which, I think will be reversed in a week or less.

My best guess is that due to the relatively isolated locales of these bases (Lackland excluded) they were not worried due to lack of confirmed cases near the bases. Now that COVID is nearly everywhere they are going to have to re-evaluate because this risk is getting out of hand


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Let’s be honest, this decision wasn’t made in a vacuum with the Corona virus. Leadership decisions and failures before are forcing this.... Considering the only “fix” to the retention issues box they put themself in is producing their way out of it, there isn’t really another option in their eyes.

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24 minutes ago, WheelsOff said:

Those 12 extra students we’re gonna graduate over the next few weeks while we continue to put our families at risk is totally worth it. 

sarcasm bro.

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41 minutes ago, GoodSplash9 said:

Let’s be honest, this decision wasn’t made in a vacuum with the Corona virus. Leadership decisions and failures before are forcing this.... Considering the only “fix” to the retention issues box they put themself in is producing their way out of it, there isn’t really another option in their eyes.

Well...there is another tool sts. Two words. 

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8 hours ago, BashiChuni said:

sarcasm bro.

Trust me, I’m tracking! I haven’t been this cynical in quite some time...maybe it’s my airline aspirations drying up right before my eyes that’s doing it. 

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It's not just AETC, many government agencies and individuals are totally fine with telling others to sacrifice their businesses, lifestyles, and jobs to fight the virus but don't feel they need to make any changes themselves. It's basic game theory, if everyone else social distances and you don't, that's the best case scenario for you. How many commanders calls have been held since we were told to not gather in groups?

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If you read the original SECDEF memo it clearly says that "These exceptions are to be done on a case by case basis" and "and shall be coordinated between the gaining and losing orgs".  Am I missing something or how the hell can the AETC/CC put out a memo that is all encompassing?  

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Orbit said:

If you read the original SECDEF memo it clearly says that "These exceptions are to be done on a case by case basis" and "and shall be coordinated between the gaining and losing orgs".  Am I missing something or how the hell can the AETC/CC put out a memo that is all encompassing?  

 

I think the short answer is that they can't.  IFT and SERE dates (at least at my ANG unit) have all been cancelled -- something I haven't seen any mention of anywhere on social media.  It's kind of bizarre how bad the OSINT has been on this subject, to say nothing of the apparent total disconnect between AETC's pronouncements and the actual on the ground reality.

Edited by Mark

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My WG/CC talked about this a little, and it sounds like AETC is issuing this guidance for any student who already belongs to AETC. If a student is owned by another MAJCOM or PCS/TDY to training at another MAJCOM, it's still a work in progress.

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Does this guy actually believe that SAASS, ACSC, and AWC are really “critical to the operational mission success of our commanders...”
I doubt it.
He’s just trying to preserve the order of his command with as little impact as possible.


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Posted (edited)

Well I'd suggest ACSC students go remote and do the coursework online like most major universities but that would be a waste because the students already did it to be selected and God forbid nothing discriminates them from the non selects. 

Edited by FLEA
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13 minutes ago, FLEA said:

Well I'd suggest ACSC students go remote and do the coursework online like most major universities but that would be a waste because the students already did it to be selected and God for it nothing discriminates them from the non selects. 

Gotta do it online twice to show your commitment to the O6 path

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