JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --
A group of young men and women pop to what they know to be “attention.” A general look of confusion, concern, and slight confidence stretches across the faces of a group of newly enlisted members of the United States Air Force Reserve. These individuals have not yet become Airmen in the world’s greatest Air Force, but they have started their journey with their assignment to the Development Training Flight.
The DTF is a delayed entry program at Joint Base Charleston that gives new members of the Air Force a chance to learn, develop and cultivate the basic skills of being an Airmen prior to attending Basic Military Training.
"The Development and Training Flight is a great program for the 315th Airlift Wing,” said Col. Gregory Gilmour, 315th Airlift Wing commander. “It strengthens our total force by helping new enlistees become better prepared for success through their training process, while keeping them engaged in the Air Force Reserve."
The program was started over four years ago to minimize the failure rates in Basic Military Training by newly enlisted members of the Reserve, said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Melton, 315th Airlift Wing Development and Training Flight program manager.
“Based on their lack of general knowledge of Air Force history, customs and courtesies, and mostly low PT scores, this program was developed by our command chief at headquarters in an effort to lower that attrition rate,” Melton said.
Before an individual is assigned to the DTF, they must first swear in and enlist into the Air Force Reserve and be assigned to a unit, Melton said.
Once they have completed the initial enlistment process, trainees are then required to attend the monthly uniform training assemblies with the DTF, Melton said. These UTAs are then filled with educational and physical training sessions.
“An average day starts at 0500,” said Melton. “We do what they would do at basic training. They fall in to a flight and we do a uniform check to make sure that their shoe strings are tucked in and they’re dressed for [physical training]. We get onto a bus and we come to the base and we do a PT test. After that, we go to the classroom and learn about things like Air Force history, rank structure and we answer questions from the trainees.”
Throughout the day, trainees are required to march in formation to and from all locations. They also use other BMT standards such as reporting statements and classroom protocols all while wearing standard issue web belts with canteens.
“It’s pretty fun,” said Jason Symmes, a trainee assigned to the DTF here. “I feel like it prepares me to go to basic training, both for fitness practices and learning how to march. I didn’t know anything about marching at all, but now I know it.”
The second day of the UTA weekend consists of a lengthened PT session, which incorporates running, calisthenics and core strengthening exercises in order to aid the participants in self-evaluating their individual fitness levels.
“It’s very beneficial to be here because we get great advice and knowledge about PT expectations and we know what to prepare for,” said Alexandria James, a trainee assigned to the DTF here. “We do a lot of exercises and scenarios. Whatever we’re not up on, Tech. Sgt. Melton helps teach us.”
With all of the instruction and refinement that takes place through the DTF, Melton believes that the Air Force Reserve will continue strengthening the service by delivering better trained and better prepared enlistees to BMT.
“The fact that this program focuses on those problems or those reasons for attrition is the reason that, I think, the Air Force will be stronger,” Melton said.
At the end of the UTA weekend, DTF trainees have a better understanding for the basics of being an Airman, so that they will succeed in their future careers. A tired group of bright-eyed, but weary enlistees finish as a team by joining their hands together in a huddle and shouting “DTF!”