Commit to training

Maj. Dennis Higuera, 314th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander

Maj. Dennis Higuera, 314th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Training is an investment. Most, if not all of us, have heard that statement. But how many of us really believe it and are committed to it?

Undoubtedly, training provides clear benefits to organizations. For employees, training improves skills, which improves job performance, leading to higher job satisfaction. For business, studies have shown that training yields a return on investments, with yields increasing as investments increase. More importantly, exceptional training programs give organizations a competitive advantage, which is certainly true for the Air Force.

Yes, we all believe in training because of the distinct benefits it provides. But it's easy to support training when times are good. How about when times get tough, as they are now? We continue to accomplish multiple missions around the world. As Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, points out in CSAF Vector 2010, "... nearly 40,000 American Airmen are deployed to 263 locations across the globe." Furthermore, we face shrinking manpower as force shaping draws us down to congressionally mandated levels, leaving fewer people to accomplish those same missions. On top of that, we face tightening budgets. In the future (and the future is now), we will have less time and money to meet our missions. Tough times such as these really test our commitment to training.

Often an organization's commitment to training weakens as they look to cut costs and expand available man hours. We can't let that happen. We must continue to develop our force in order to maintain our competitive advantage and win today's and tomorrow's fight. Effective, relevant training leads to those competitive advantages required to combat our adversaries. CSAF Vector 2010 warns of a very challenging future as the number and severity of threats increase, demanding we "constantly adapt in order to remain strong." Effective, relevant training improves our ability to adapt, providing the competitive advantage we need to remain strong and be successful, now and in the future.

As an organization, the Air Force is committed to training. But organizational commitment doesn't exist without commitment from each of us because effective, relevant training is a person-to-person process.

So how committed are you to training? Are you willing to take the time to perform a thorough turnover of a program rather than just handing your replacement the continuity book and saying, "it's all in there?" Are you willing to determine how to use mistakes as training opportunities rather than just fix it and get on with it? Are you willing to track upgrade and ancillary training to ensure your people are properly trained on time? Are you willing to use dwindling unit funds to pay for your people to attend training courses? Are you willing to set your work aside in order to explain a task or CDCs to a new 3-level, even if you're not his or her immediate supervisor?

As individuals and as an organization, we must continue to demonstrate our commitment to training in order to maintain the best air and space force in the world.