BMT Is Ending at Keesler — for Now

 In U.S. Air Force, COVID-19, Defense, Air, Forces & Capabilities

Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., will wel­come its final Basic Military Training flight of 2020 in the last week of September, with grad­u­a­tion slated for before Thanksgiving, 2nd Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Andrea D. Tullos told reporters on Sept. 21.

“We’ll then take about 90 days to do an after-action and a reassess­ment of how that oper­a­tion went, and we will have plans, if asked and if nec­es­sary, to resume BMT prob­a­bly no ear­li­er than February of next year,” she said during an Air Education and Training Command con­fer­ence call.

The fiscal 2021 pro­duc­tion tar­gets that 2AF received from USAF aren’t high enough to merit the use of two BMT loca­tions next year, Tullos said, though she noted that “COVID gets a vote.”

“If we have chal­lenges, and we see spikes and out­breaks, and the CDC issues us guid­ance that causes us to lose our abil­i­ty to use San Antonio as our full pro­duc­tion site, we’ll be pre­pared to reopen that capa­bil­i­ty and resume again next year,” she told reporters.

The Air Force in April began a proof of concept at Keesler to demon­strate the fea­si­bil­i­ty of host­ing BMT at a non-Lackland loca­tion in case of a con­tin­gency — not specif­i­cal­ly the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. After the test flight of trainees graduated in May, AETC announced plans to simultaneously hold BMT at Lackland and the Mississippi base until pan­dem­ic surge oper­a­tions con­clud­ed.

Tullos cred­it­ed U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command and Air Force recruiters with making the pause on BMT ops at Keesler pos­si­ble, since going back to busi­ness as usual — for the most part — at Lackland hinged on the abil­i­ty to get new recruits to San Antonio amid the pan­dem­ic.

“What it’s really come down to has been our abil­i­ty to … ship with agili­ty into Lackland,” she said. “So we were very con­cerned that we would not be able to get recruits from across the coun­try into San Antonio, which you’ll recall has been pretty much a hot zone for COVID since the first arrival of the [Princess] cruise ship pas­sen­gers, as well as our cit­i­zens from Wuhan province, much ear­li­er in this year.”

Air Force Magazine source|articles

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