Grad community hears update

Col. Scott Campbell ’95, USAFA commander, HQ, Commandant of Cadets, met with graduates and friends of the Academy Monday to provide an update on the progress of the Cadet Wing.

The quarterly update was conducted in conjunction with the Association of Graduates at Doolittle Hall with about 80 people in attendance.

Campbell, who has served as vice commandant since August 2018, took on the duties of commandant in late April.

Among the topics Campbell discussed during the two-hour session:

  • Enhancing class distinction at USAFA. He noted that exchange cadets from West Point and Annapolis told leaders that the four-class system was more defined at their institutions. Campbell said the exchange cadets observed that USAFA was more of a two-class system — fourth-class cadets and then everybody else (upperclassmen). Among the steps taken to better separate the classes involved the policy of when cadets can wear civilian clothing, with the firsties eventually attaining the right to wear civilian clothes more often than any others. There also were adjustments made to the number of inspections performed for firsties (fewer inspections) vs. second-class, third-class and fourth-classmen (progressively more inspections). In addition, senior leaders decided to have cadets wear class color baseball caps more often to encourage class pride.
  • Instituting warrior weekends to better instill the warrior culture in the Cadet Wing. Campbell said four training weekends have focused on important themes — warrior spirit, readiness, resiliency and deployments — that will help cadets better transition to their roles in the Air Force. “That’s been my focus,” he reported. “How do I make this more like the operational Air Force? How do I connect the cadets more than three weeks in Ops Air Force, or if you’re lucky enough to get a sponsor trip?” The hope is to provide more opportunities for cadets to visit Air Force bases and training exercises so that they are mission ready upon graduation, he added.
  • The Academy is attempting to bring back SERE Level C (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), Campbell reported. The hope is to restore the program, to include resistance training, sometime in the next three to five years.
  • Sexual assault and harassment numbers continue to be a concern, Campbell noted, and senior leaders are working with the Cadet Wing to better address the issue. He said the Culture and Climate Office has instituted several efforts to reduce the prevalence of such inappropriate conduct and to make sure victims get the help they require.
  • The Academy will soon be awarding AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) assignments to cadets during the second semester of their second-class year instead of the fall of their firstie year. Campbell said the earlier job assignments allow the Academy to work out glitches in the process and get more cadets into a career field of their choosing. Campbell noted, however, that the Air Force is getting away from the thought that cadets can “be whatever they want to be.” In the future, fewer opportunities will be available for such positions as doctors, public affairs officers, comptrollers, etc. The focus will be on producing more pilots, space operators and cyber officers.
    “You’ll be what we want you to be,” Campbell said. “The focus is on operators.”
  • A recent announcement indicated the Cadet Chapel is to remain open through Sept. 1, but contracts related to the Cadet Chapel project could be awarded as early as June/July as originally planned. Even after contracts are signed, the Cadet Chapel will likely remain open for several weeks as the contractors complete the required front-end work (e.g. material submittals, material procurement, mobilization, etc). Everything remains up in the air, however, as a final decision on funding is made by the Air Force, Campbell said. Contrary to published reports, Campbell told the crowd, the Cadet Chapel project has not been cancelled or deferred. It is one of 61 projects across the Air Force identified as possibly being deferred if Congress does not approve a supplemental funding bill for reconstruction efforts at Tyndall AFB and Offutt AFB. Funding decisions are expected sometime this summer. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) out of San Antonio is managing the Chapel renovation and continues to press with contract negotiations, even as the funding situation is still up in the air, so that a contract can be awarded soon after funding decisions are made. Campbell added that an official closure date for the Chapel cannot be determined until Congress makes the decision on the supplemental funding. In a related note, Campbell says officials are exploring the possibility of installing a temporary enclosure around the Chapel to allow the contractor to work within a climate-controlled environment in an effort to speed up the renovation.

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