11 graduate PA class at TEC

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mavi Smith
  • The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center
Service members from Air National Guard units in Delaware, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming came together for the Public Affairs/Multimedia Management Seminar at The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, Feb. 16-26.

This nine-day course is offered three-times a year at the Training and Education Center and provides public affairs personnel with the needed background and training to manage a base public affairs multimedia service center.

Lessons in accomplishing video documentation, captioning photographs, and managing training records to discussions on the public release of information, how to conduct media relations, and the roles and responsibilities of the public affairs office are some of the key topics covered.

Many of these guardsmen came looking for guidance on the recent merger of multimedia and the public affairs office. Some were preparing for upcoming unit compliance inspections, others were fulfilling requirements for 7-level upgrade training, and three were preparing to deploy in support of the weapons system video mission.

"The biggest thing that makes this class work is the interaction between the students," said Senior Master Sgt. Rick Ware, the career field and functional manager for all Air National Guard public affairs personnel. "In this classroom, they are not public affairs officers, journalists, photographers or videographers. They are one class sharing issues, ideas and processes they use at their wings. Then they go home with all of this knowledge to help them make things work at their bases."

"All of the information I've taken from this class is beneficial," said Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Merlock, a traditional guard photographer with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard and a full-time New Jersey state trooper. "I've called my supervisor up twice so far and told him everything in this class is applicable to our shop."

"This is the first military class I've been to where I'm constantly thinking how I can apply this," added Merlock. "How I can bring this back and present it to the other troops in our shop so we're all on the same page, not only in our shop but with the Air Force."

Like many of the other skills enhancement training courses held here, the Public Affairs class has a long history at the Training and Education Center. It was created by a group of volunteers in 1984, and has trained more than 1,500 Airmen.

Two of those volunteer instructors are full-time guardsmen, Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano, the public affairs manager, and Master Sgt. Bill Connor, the NCOIC of broadcasting, from 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard.

"Coming back to this class several times in the past 10 years," said Arellano, on their decision to become instructors. "We noticed that we were contributing more to the class than we were taking back."

"We've had some really unique experiences in Texas where we get to practice what we prepare for," he said, referring to very busy hurricane seasons in his state. "To be able to share what we've learned with the field is a great opportunity."

"I'm loving the course," said Master Sgt. Anthony J. Hall, a traditional guard photographer with the 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard and a full-time professional photographer and design consultant of digital multimedia systems. "The interaction with everybody else is awesome and the instructors are really knowledgeable...they know their stuff."

The Public Affairs/Multimedia Management Seminar is one of more than 40 skills enhancement training courses offered at The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education each year. These courses provide personnel in a wide variety of career fields with current policies, guidelines, and administrative practices. They are narrow in focus, targeted to specific areas and designed to enhance job performance. They range in subject from food services, recruiting, and expeditionary medical support to safety, security, and instructor certification.