Going back to our innovative roots

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- On October 1, the Air National Guard’s Training and Education Center will say goodbye to an old friend. The Warrior Network’s satellite broadcasts will be going dark as we transition to multiple, modern transmission methods.

The satellite was originally put in place to provide a blended solution for Enlisted Professional Military Education in 1995. The Director of the Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald W. Shepard commissioned it to solve the ANG’s enlisted leadership development backlog as an engaging cost-effective way to deliver the curriculum.

Over time, the satellite’s reliable outreach to all 54 states, territories, and the district became a primary means of communication between senior leaders to the field. “At our peak, we had 283 sites, Guard units, Joint Force Headquarters, and Geographically Separated Units,” said Gerry Barnes, Warrior Network superintendent. “Right from the start, we had one-way video and two-way audio.” This setup allowed for classes and meetings to be interactive.

Many wings used the satellite system as a training platform on drill weekends, covering countless subjects. It enabled the graduation of thousands of ALS and NCOA students and provided a cost-effective and immediate way for National Guard Bureau and ANG Readiness Center leaders to communicate directly with the entire enterprise. For a few years, NGB used it as a news platform running daily stories in the Minuteman Report. The people and capabilities racked up numerous awards all along the way for innovation and quality.

Unfortunately, everything comes to an end, and today we say thank you to the men and women who made the satellite broadcasts successful for more than 25 years.

We also need to thank them for paving the way for our future. On October 1, TEC is launching the Training and Education Center University or TEC-U. Although the satellite is no longer in operation, the capabilities have moved on to multiple distribution platforms. TEC-U is now live and hosting courses through our learning management system via Build the Blue and Leadership Academy. It provides micro and macro on-demand videos ranging from resume writing to studio photography with From the Force.

“We’re not only producing the content for From the Force, but we’re also relying on Airmen in the field to share their expertise,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Catharine Schmidt, TEC-U Production superintendent. “From the Force is training for Airmen by Airmen.”

TEC-U still maintains a video streaming service that provides live broadcasts with two-way communications. The best part - any smart device can access it. No Common Access Card is needed.

We are digging deep and going back to our roots of training and educating Airmen. Our new mission is to produce and deliver training and educational content to enhance readiness and develop exceptional leaders. We combined the knowledge of the ANG’s curriculum developers with the talents of the ANG’s premiere video production facility and the Warrior Network’s distribution capabilities. In the ’90s, TEC revolutionized EPME with satellite classes; we will do it again today for skill enhancement and leadership development through TEC-U.

(U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Shaun Withers is the division chief for TEC University at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee.)