First sergeants find value in Air Guard’s Warrior Network

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
When Chief Master Sgt. Michael Kennedy wanted to communicate to more than 800 first sergeants across the Air National Guard as their functional manager this week he turned to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

The Center told him, no problem.

Its Media Engagement Division and "Warrior Network" here broadcast Kennedy live from an anchor desk, in high definition. They set him up in a state-of-the-art video broadcast, while at the same time fielded questions to him via email, text and phone.

Subject matter experts and top Total Force leaders were also connected in live via high definition video teletraining systems or telephonically, creating a virtual conference that was pushed out to all of the Air Guard's first sergeants.

If that's not enough the broadcast went out via satellite to the entire Air Guard, nationwide, through base cable networks and directly to some Airmen's desktop computers.

Maybe best of all, it cost Kennedy's department little more than a plane ticket and a hotel stay for one.

"I think we are capturing all the facets here at this jewel and really making it sparkle today," said Kennedy. "It's very cool, and I'm pretty excited about it."

The Warrior Network and its dedicated satellite television system beams out to all of the Air Guard's sites, for a total of 186 downlinks, for the purpose of delivering news, command information and professional training, among other creative uses.

Managers of the advanced television studio network said the recent fiscal constraints are proving the value of having a combined physical and virtual campus with conferencing capabilities.

It's a center of learning that has grown toward its golden age for decades.

"I think the Warrior Network is at the start of a level of usage that has not been seen," said Maj. Gabe Johnson, division chief. "It's cost effective ... really the only travel is for you to come to TEC, your audience doesn't have to go anywhere, and that's a huge benefit."

As the physical school house and satellite campus for the Air Guard's enlisted academies, members at the Center are working hard to serve the field with innovation and technology to "be the all-encompassing place for knowledge, comprehension and application levels of learning," said Johnson.

Having been a participant in the Center's satellite Noncommissioned Officer Academy back in the '90s, Kennedy said he knew right away the Air Guard was "bringing a very unique perspective to professional training."

"Working with the crew here and what they bring to the fight every day, it's just quality, bar none," said Kennedy.

The award-winning media team consists of Air Guard and Air Force active duty Airmen on special assignment, as well as civilian studio engineers and technicians.

Every duty day, the studio broadcasts its signature "Minuteman Report" - a news story from the field - to the National Guard as well as to the Department of Defense's Pentagon Channel and American Forces Network, reaching millions of viewers around the world.

The studio is preparing to deliver the next Airman Leadership School via satellite to sites all across the nation on Monday. The Air Guard's Senior Leadership Conference was broadcast live through the studio, and Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, command chief of the Air Guard, recently recorded and broadcast his introductory message to the field here.

Johnson said the Center and its Warrior Network see endless opportunities for innovative communications for all of the service components and Departments.

"At the very basic level we are willing to work with customers to put out computer-based training or a recorded video, all the way up to producing interactive broadcasts and hosting campus workshops and classrooms with live coverage," said Johnson.

"This is our third time using the Warrior Network," said Kennedy. "It's a low-cost, high impact way to reach 100 percent of our Wings."

Kennedy said he once brought a cadre of instructors here, even the Air Guard's command chief, who was scheduled to broadcast with him that afternoon.

"I can hold a Total Force broadcast here with just a few phone calls and speak to the entire Air Force, worldwide," said Kennedy. "To me, that's just an awesome venue to take advantage of."