The Air Force Academy’s top officer said decisions made by senior Pentagon officials and increased defense spending are changing how the Academy prepares cadets to contend with modern warfare.
Lieutenant Gen. Jay Silveria said this and more when he closed-out his first year as Academy superintendent Aug. 9 with a commander’s call for his military and civilian staff.
These changes are the result of the Academy staying in line with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s focus areas: “Revitalizing squadrons, changing how we present forces to a joint combatant commander, and having a networked approach to combined arms,” Silveria said.
“All in all, we’ve certainly tried to have a much greater interest in being deliberate about what we do here,” he said.
Among these changes, more graduates will be selected for pilot training next year than have been since the 90s,’ and the installation’s internet infrastructure will get a full upgrade starting this year.
These scheduled system-wide upgrades will include the most-modern software, interactive classrooms and a Cloud-based system.
“I’m not a ‘Comm guy’ but we have to do this,” Silveria said. “We have to change and we cannot miss this opportunity. It won’t be easy, but a year from now, we will be decidedly better.”
The Academy will also encourage greater involvement from cadets in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
“We’ll let cadets know that the Air Force places an emphasis on STEM and that it will matter when it comes to their career fields,” Silveria said. “Our charge is to encourage cadets to value STEM. We’re a technological force and STEM is important to the Air Force.”
Silveria said the Academy’s manpower roster will also expand with the addition of 40 military trainers assigned to the Cadet Wing and 34 administrative assistants allotted to its academic departments.
“We’re going to have 40 more AMTs in the Cadet Wing for two in each squadron,” he said.
The general said the Air Force adjusted its manpower levels in several career fields to increase the number of cadets selected for pilot training,
“We’re producing war-fighters and our share of pilots is increasing,” he said. “Half of our next class is going to go to pilot training.”
Silveria said this group also includes graduates selected for remotely-piloted aircraft pilot training.
“They could graduate to fly a plane from the cockpit or a desk,” he said.
Silveria said these changes keep the Academy in line with the needs of the Air Force and the U.S. and help the Academy produce the right officers.
“Our mission hasn’t changed but there are changes to how we’re delivering that,” he said. “We’re certainly not going to slow down. Our lieutenants are going into a complex 21st Century battlefield.”