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BOV hears updates on a range of USAFA matters
The Board of Visitors gathered for a day-long meeting at the United States Air Force Academy on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
The independent board examines the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters related to the Academy. Appointed by the president and Congress, the board meets at least four times a year, with at least two meetings conducted at USAFA.
The board prepares reports containing its views and recommendations pertaining to the Academy and submits them concurrently to the secretary of defense (through the secretary of the Air Force) and to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.
Among the key topics discussed was USAFA’s efforts to prepare its cadets for potential roles in the nation’s new Space Force.
“At this point, we have more questions than answers,” admitted Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria ’85, USAFA superintendent.
Gen. (Ret.) Edward Rice ’78 agreed.
“We are at the beginning of the beginning of this discussion,” he suggested.
SIlveria said the initial plan is to commission 62 second lieutenants from the Class of 2020 directly into the Space Force upon graduation in May. They will likely all be space operators.
Col. Houston Cantwell, Academy vice superintendent, said the challenge in the coming months is to “inform and inspire” cadets to volunteer for careers in the new military service.
In addition to space operators, Cantwell said, there will be other job classifications that could eventually become part of the Space Force, including intelligence officers, cyber, acquisitions and engineers.
“But that has not been determined yet,” he added.
Ultimately, Silveria estimated that approximately 100 members of each USAFA class will potentially be commissioned into the Space Force.
A former air officer commanding (AOC) at USAFA will return to the institution this summer and start a Space Force detachment, Cantwell reported. That colonel will act as a liaison between the new service and the Academy to get everyone on the same page as it relates to personnel needs and training that the Space Force requires.
Brig Gen. Linell Letendre ’96, dean of the faculty, reported that USAFA is working on curriculum changes to develop the skills necessary for future Space Force leaders. One of the first additions is a pass/fail class titled “Space 101” to introduce cadets to the opportunities in the warfighting domain. Other new courses will be developed in the coming months.
Letendre said initial indications are that cadets have an interest in the fledgling service.
“The cadets are excited about the Space Force,” she assured the BOV.
In other agenda items:
Lt. Col. Joseph Foster updated the BOV on the newly formed Institute for Future Conflict. The only person assigned to the IFC so far, Foster said help is on the way.
One civilian position and a colonel will soon be assigned to the IFC, and the Air Force Academy Foundation will be endowing an additional position this summer, Foster says.
The first IFC Fellow will come on board soon to help guide the research and academic efforts of USAFA in the area of future conflict.
In addition, one cadet has been selected for an internship this summer to study space law, Foster reported. That individual will return with knowledge to share about the legal implications of the future fight.
Col. Clarence Lukes ’92, vice commandant of cadets, reported on developments within the Cadet Wing.
He touched on the training pause that occurred late last year, as USAFA developed new guidelines for appropriate and thoughtful activities. Lukes reported that some training had devolved into demeaning and unsafe territory, so a re-set was required.
Lukes said a new syllabus has been developed that is structured and deliberate.
Additionally, he addressed rumors that Recognition was not happening for the Class of 2023.
“Recognition is still on,” he assured. There will be some adjustments, he added, so it serves as a complete assessment of the fourth-class year.
He added that a few changes are on tap for Basic Cadet Training this summer, including more objective-based training and elimination of schedule “white space.” In addition, Doolie Day Out will be moved to the end of BCT, rather than in the middle.
Brig. Gen. Linell Letendre told the BOV that her team’s top priority at the moment is implementing a new student information system, which has been challenging.
She also reported that there will be a 50% increase in summer research opportunities for cadets this year.
In addition, she noted that USAFA is now authorized to offer tenure to civilian faculty members — something that was not available to them before. Letendre said her team is in the early implementation stage of the process.
Lt. Gen. Silveria reported that the Academy is adjusting the timeframe it awards AFSCs (Air Force Specialty Codes) to cadets. Instead of awarding job classifications to Firsties, they will instead be announced in May of a cadet’s second-class year.
The change will allow cadets to take additional classes or take advantage of summer opportunities that better help them in their careers, he said.
The BOV discussed several matters related to sexual assault prevention programs and victim care efforts.
Silveria noted that the Academy had 40 reports of sexual assault during the 2018-19 academic year.
“One is too many, of course,” he said.
He outlined the various programs that USAFA has instituted to address the issue, but admitted that there is no definitive data to prove any one approach works best. Healthy relationship training and alcohol risk reduction programs are showing some promise, but the institution continues to search for the right mix of efforts, he added.
“There is no single silver bullet and there never will be,” Silveria said.