Defense Secretary, Top NCOs Check Out Training
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
LACKLAND AFB, Texas, Feb. 7, 1996 "Do our people get enough training? When time is so limited and there are so many to teach, what techniques do you use?"
William J. Perry asked the questions. David J. Campanale gave the answers.
The chief master sergeant of the Air Force, Campanale invited the defense secretary and the top NCOs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard to visit Air Force training centers to see basic and advanced training firsthand.
Campanale said he wanted the secretary to see training. "During all of our trips, Dr. Perry always asks questions about training," he said. "Lackland is the best base to show him. We have interAmerican, basic military, technical and joint training here." Almost all Air Force recruits and officers go through Lackland for training.
The first stop was the InterAmerican Air Forces Academy. The school offers nearly 70 Spanishlanguage courses to Latin American and Caribbean military forces and government agencies. After touring classrooms and laboratories, Perry met with students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela.
The next stop was Lacklands basic training center, where technical instructors have molded civilians into members of the U.S. Air Force for nearly 50 years.
In a basic training dormitory, Perry saw bunks made tight enough to bounce a quarter and rigidly aligned wall and foot locker displays. In the dark, misty morning air, he watched recruits from the 323nd Training Squadron doing physical conditioning, shouting, "Threetwothree! House of pain!" at each musclewrenching repetition.
"Im pleased and proud of the operation that I saw here at Lackland which is the undergirding for the competence of our military forces," he said, after the tour.
Each quarter, the senior enlisted leaders take turns hosting Perry and their sisterservice counterparts at a chosen base. This was Campanales second turn since the trips started more than two years ago.
During the trips, the senior enlisted chiefs show the secretary the good and the bad. Along with checking out training and enthusiastic trainees, they showed Perry a deteriorating dormitory. The underside of the building was a moldy mass of corroding pipes and concrete.
"That particular building is important to us," Campanale said. "If it goes down, we cant train recruits. If we miss one week of training, were behind the power curve by 1,000 troops. Thats why we took him there. Dr. Perry is an engineer. He sees and understands.
"He is also the owner," Campanale said. "If theres one person in this entire military whos truly joint, hes the one. We wanted to show him some good facilities this is what your money can do. And some bad facilities this is what is yet to be done. Then he can go in and lobby for the dollars we need to fix it."
The visits increase Perrys credibility among enlisted service members on such issues as quality of life, according to Campanale.
"They have read what he says hes going to do," he said. "When they see him, they see that all the stuff hes talking about quality of life is genuine. Hes going to do it because they see the sincerity in his demeanor and in his approach in talking to people. He goes out and surveys the turf and then he says, 'Ah! I need to put the money over here.'"
Throughout the visit, Perry talked only with enlisted service members. The base commanding general and other highranking officers welcomed the visitors at the flight line, but did not accompany the group on their tour. NCOs briefed the secretary on their areas of expertise, be it classroom instruction, handson technical training or physical conditioning.
Perry paid close attention to the briefers, according to Chief Master Sgt. Charles McLaurin, senior enlisted adviser of the 37th Training Wing.
"Our people briefed him, and he was truly listening to them," McLaurin said. "The key is he asked the right questions. The questions he asked those people were very appropriate. That tells me that he was very interested."
According to Chief Master Sgt. Annette Barber, senior enlisted adviser, Air Education and Training Command, Perrys visits send a clear message that he cares about the enlisted force.
She said the visit to Lackland gave the secretary "a good feel for the kind of quality and professional training that we provide all of our Air Force basic trainees. As a result of his visit, we have been able to glean some of the policies he deals with on a daily basis."
"Of course, senior leaders know how important the enlisted force is to the Department of Defense," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney said. "But by him doing this, the people who make things happen on a daytoday basis clearly see that. Theres not much these young folks here wont do when they know the senior enlisted leaders of the department are on their side and understand what theyre going through."
In addition to sending a message to enlisted people, the trips give the five top NCOs a chance to share ideas, Campanale said. "We compare," he said. "We see what everybody else is doing. We see if there are things that we can do together. For instance, when we went to the security police area, we all got to see firsthand the training the U.S. Air Force is doing for all of the services and how well they work together.
"We gain a lot of insight and ideas, and were able to help one another. I think it further perpetuates the idea that it doesnt matter what type of uniform you have or what branch of the service youre in, theres a common approach and a common purpose and we all serve the president of the United States and our secretary."