Alaska Air Guard mass briefs aim to assist NGB save 2.1 million man-hours

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- 176 Wing members participated in the Air National Guard Ancillary Training Pilot Program here Sep. 20 and Sep. 21, trading computer-based training for en masse briefings.

The test program, implemented Sep. 1, mandates that all air guardsmen attend a briefing every drill weekend refreshing members on recurring training topics.

Conducting a session in groups monthly versus training modules for each subject individually will effectively save the Guard approximately 2.1 million man-hours over a three-year trial period, according to Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling.

Ancillary training is important to keep military members deployment-ready, but the intent is to contribute to the mission, not be the main focus, according Air Force officials. Many guardsmen have to share computers and accomplish multiple ancillary training modules in 16 hours, on top of other requirements, leaving less time to train on their actual missions.

"To have that many people knock out that much training in that short of a time is incredible," said Senior Master Sgt. Harry Evans, a full-time maintenance supervisor with the 176 Maintenance Squadron , who has watched his frustrated traditional troops "stuck behind a computer" many weekends instead of doing hands-on training in their specialties.

Using time more efficiently was one of the goals of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, an initiative established by retired Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, the previous Director of the Air National Guard, in October 2012.

This new training program accomplishes just that, according to Senior Master Sgt. Tracy Glaze, the wing education and training superintendent. 

Every Air Guard unit uses the same talking points and slides, so training is standard across the board, Glaze said. Plus, training includes a few discussion questions, which opens the floor to dialogue with its members.

"It's a lot easier to remember things when people are engaged," Glaze said. "You're getting quality training in a short amount of time, and you're getting all of your ancillary training requirements met."

If the program is successful after the trial period, it will become the norm in the Air National Guard.
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