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Keesler launches new course to train force support officers

Captain Stone introduces a team-building exercise to 2nd Lts. Amanda Pelkowski, left, and Crystal Vogt, students in the new course.  Lieutenant Pelkowski is stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and Lieutenant Vogt is assigned to Pope AFB, N.C.

Capt. Michael Stone introduces a team-building exercise to 2nd Lts. Amanda Pelkowski, left, and Crystal Vogt, students in the new course. Lieutenant Pelkowski is stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and Lieutenant Vogt is assigned to Pope AFB, N.C. Captain Stone is the 335th Training Squadron mission support training flight commander at Keesler AFB, Miss.

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- The first group of force support officers in a new Air Force Specialty Code began classes Oct. 6 at Keesler Air Force Base.

The new 38F AFSC, which becomes official Oct. 31, is a combination of what used to be three separate career fields: personnel, manpower and services.

Training was previously conducted at Keesler AFB or Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, depending on the AFSC. Keesler AFB was chosen to train officers for the combined course since it falls under the category of initial skills training.

With some career fields getting smaller, the new combined career field allows support officers more opportunities to prove their value, according to Capt. Michael Stone, 335th Training Squadron mission support training flight commander, who will soon fall under this new AFSC.

"Combining these career fields makes me more useful to the Air Force," Captain Stone said. "It keeps me looking to the future."

Subject matter experts from the three previously separate career fields came together and offered input into a new curriculum which would prepare graduates to fill billets in any one of the three areas. The result is a 49-academic-day course. Upon graduation Dec. 12, the officers will be the first to fill jobs under the new AFSC. 

According to Lt. Col. Mark Mesenbrink, 335th TRS commander, leaders expect to see a jump in attendance in the course - from 200 students a year to more than 320.

To get this course operational on time, many people from Air Education and Training Command headquarters, Air Staff and Air Force Institute of Technology worked with the Keesler AFB staff to make the impossible a reality, according to Colonel Mesenbrink.

"Normally, we need a year to properly bring a new course on line," the colonel pointed out. "This timeline was severely shrunk to a hectic-paced three months. I'm very proud of everyone's efforts to come together and get this course operational."