His office is an awesome display of strength, history, and comaraderie. All of the coins, the plaques, the photos in frames…they tell a story of a man and a leader who truly makes an impact wherever he goes. And now, his next story is here, at Lackland – where he once went to BMT. Where he once went to Security Forces training, and where he once said, “yes, trainees…this is a tent, and that’s your cot for the next few days.”
In the mid to late 1990s BMT ran a section of training called “FTX”, which would later transition into “Warrior Week”. It was where USAF trainees would be exposed to a very light example of field or mobility conditions. Not all who worked there were MTIs, but all most certainly had experience being downrange. One prior defender (USAF Security Forces) had no idea that from that dusty mound on Medina, the course of his career would bring him back to be the Superintendent of it all.
Chief Simpson thank you for breaking apart from the demands of your position at this late hour to speak about the MTIA.
“No problem, this is the good stuff – fire away.”
As the Superintendent of BMT, what does an organization like the MTIA mean for the current MTIs?
“Any professional organization that is comprised of members of a community, both past and present, should strive to make that community stronger. They do that by honoring, preserving, and respecting the past; while promoting and celebrating the present. The ties between both, despite change that occurs in an organization as dynamic as BMT, will always remain tangible and evident. There are certain principles among the profession that are timeless and proven; we have a collective responsibility to ensure that our past MTIs share those with the present MTIs. Likewise, as our AF culture evolves, so must our BMT culture. Our present MTIs articulate that mission like no one else can and their promotion of those changes to our legacy MTIs adds to their credibility. Together, whether it is through idea sharing, financial aid, or mentoring opportunities, they make the MTI corps stronger. That of course makes our future AF stronger.”
What part of the whole BMT mission/picture speaks to YOUR pride?
“From the standpoint of sheer symbolism, the Airman’s Coin ceremony just captures [it for me]. To see the “passing of the torch” by presenting the coin or an MTI addressing a Trainee as “Airman” for the first time, because they have earned it…is absolutely priceless. And of course, to see someone who has elected to serve earning their citizenship is so much bigger than anything we can give them. It means a whole new way of life, whether they serve 4 years or 30.
We have a collective responsibility to mentor the next generation of Airmen. No place is this more evident than in BMT. To see the difference between trainees when they arrive on Tuesday 0 WOT and Airman’s Coin ceremonies is just remarkable. Taking a young, undisciplined man or woman and molding them into Airmen of character is a powerful charge. Too often we use statement like that as a tagline or a motto, but truly it is at the core of what we do. We aren’t just teaching folks how to march, how to fold clothes, or how to align shoes. We are giving them a foundation of discipline and respect to make not only great Airmen, but great people. And that is really it…make these people better and make society better. “
Having been in the BMT environment for the startup of Warrior Week years ago, now that it is 2017, what is the best attribute you have seen in the MTIs of TODAY?
“Today’s MTIs have the benefit of perspective that previous generations (in general) lacked. With most having served in the post-9/11 deployment boom, they have seen and done far more than MTIs that came before them. Whether that comes from high operations tempos, increased exposure to joint operations, or the realities of service during wartime operations (which most generations of Airman in the past had little exposure to) they bring incomparable wisdom and experience. As the military continues to focus on joint operations and common operating pictures, it is crucial that we have a cadre of personnel who can communicate that vision to the next generation of Airmen. When we look across the spectrum of our MTI corps, we see people from nearly every background who have been everywhere and done everything. Their credibility is remarkable and I am in awe of the job that they do.”
You are pretty remarkable yourself, Chief.