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New Airmen get hands-on experience at 53rd ATCS Airfield Learning Center Training Capstone

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ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Airmen with the 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron set up a mobile control tower and a truck mounted generator at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, September 22, 2020. The equipment is staged as part of a capstone event to culminate the Airman training program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rodney Speed)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

The 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron recently put the skills of 3-level Airmen who are fresh out of technical school to the test at its Airfield Learning Center Training Capstone Event.

The event unfolded at the south training area, west of Building 1364, at the squadron’s compound, Sept. 21-25.

Master Sgt. Clay Colvin, 53rd ATCS flight chief, said instead of assigning the new Airmen to a workcenter to get on-the-job training and task certified, the capstone enables the unit to get newcomers ready to deploy for the mission sooner.

“At the capstone, the Airmen showcase what they have learned, by setting up equipment and tents and live out in the field,” he said. “It’s, in a way, the graduation event.”

Master Sgt. Stephen Adams, 53rd ATCS Airfield Learning Center section chief, who served in this role for nearly a year, said the capstone is a great way to test the new Airmen’s skills.

From preparing and packing air traffic control and landing systems, support equipment and gear to unpacking and setting up a simulated airfield within a few hours, Adams said the Airmen were able to operate out of the location and demonstrate the ability to maintain and troubleshoot equipment while sustaining their camp.

“The capstone event is unique in that it is solely planned, prepared and executed by the 3 - Level Airmen in the course,” he said. “A normal 53rd ATCS exercise will involve personnel from all ranks and skill levels.  This provides the opportunity for the three levels to build confidence in the tasks we are required to perform as a team when tasked to deploy.”

Colvin said the Airmen seemed to walk away with confidence in their abilities.

“The instructors guided them through several scenarios that are common in the field,” he said. “Then after a few days, the instructors gave the students tough tasks to troubleshoot, which they picked up quickly.”

Creating a realistic scenario, with equipment setup and camping in tents, made the training more beneficial, Colvin said.

“Mission comes first, but it also brings the team together while living in the field,” he said. “The instructors and I tried to make it as real as possible, and they had plenty of hands-on training.  I think the experience will settle the nerves to being brand new to the military.”

Airman 1st Class Ariel Tuck, a deployable air traffic control and landing systems technician in the 53rd ATCS, said the training she has received will help her develop her career.

“The capstone exercise, as well as the ALC course, were both beneficial to my training and future growth as an Airman in this career field,” she said. “The exercise gave us all a better opportunity to apply our classroom and hands-on training into a real world instance.

“We worked together to complete the exercise and it gave us more hands-on training to prepare us to be proficient members of the Radar Airfield Weather System career field,” Tuck said.

Colvin said he anticipates the squadron’s next capstone event to be in the early spring.