A panoramic view of the flight line at Westover ARB in Chicopee, MA. A C-5 Galaxy, the Air Force's largest airframe, is pictured to the left.
Recently the UMass Amherst Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 370 had the opportunity to participate in Westover Air Reserve Base’s monthly unit training. Cadets Sydney Hauver and Alexander Orsi were tasked with organizing the event, which took place the weekend of September 24-25. By working with Westover personnel, Orsi and Hauver were able to plan two days of training for nearly 40 cadets. As part of the weekend, AFROTC cadets had the opportunity to see the organizational process of loading an aircraft as well as the actual act of it being loaded. They additionally were able to speak with and ask questions of Logistics Readiness Officers, as well as Noncommissioned Officers.
One of the Air Force’s core missions is rapid global mobility, with the intention of being able to put troops and supplies on the ground within seventy-two hours of notification. With most other military assets requiring many days or weeks to deployment, the Air Force’s ability to deploy immediately is unprecedented. While on a much smaller scale, the visit to Westover ARB allowed cadets the opportunity to view Airmen prepare and load an aircraft for departure on a mission. Unlike classroom learning, seeing the operational Air Force in action and being able to talk to officers and enlisted Airmen offers an inside look into practical leadership and followership qualities of a military unit.
At AFROTC Detachment 370, our intent is to learn side-by-side from our total force partners in their operational missions in order to develop young officers that have multiple exposures and practical experience with the Air Force’s 5 core missions: Global Mobility, Command and Control, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and Air/Space/Cyber Superiority. We cannot start to train our future leaders too early or too often, especially when they will be the ones who squeeze the most capability out of the total force. We are thankful that we were able to begin this effort with the 439th Airlift Wing, and we look forward to expanding our efforts to the other bases around Massachusetts and the surrounding states.
Many military installations contain resources which could be beneficial to the training and mentoring of our cadets. On top of Westover Air Reserve Base, another base local to the area is Barnes Air National Guard Base. For example, the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes would be an excellent practical demonstration of air superiority via their F-15E fighter jets on base. While Barnes and Westover are the most immediately accessible, Otis Air National Guard Base may become an option in the near future for exploring the Air Force’s cyber superiority components of the total force. While Westover, Barnes, and Otis are all of great interest to Detachment 370, we are continuously seeking out opportunities for our cadets to gain exposure mission sets like Command and Control as well as Global Strike. With these innovative training opportunities, Detachment 370 will offer young officer trainees opportunities to get their feet wet in various career fields prior to commissioning as well as to fully understand the capabilities and duties of the United States Air Force in all areas of specialization.