Five years after they were given the ax due to Pentagon budget cuts, the Air Force Academy is putting 40 training sergeants back into its cadet squadrons by 2020.
The controversial cut came in 2014 as the academy and other bases dealt with $50 billion in Pentagon cuts that came as part of a deficit-cutting deal dubbed sequestration. The academy has 40 training squadrons for its 4,000 cadets, and the 2014 cut gave each of those squadrons a single officer and one sergeant to lead 100 cadets.
Now that the Pentagon budget is topping $700 billion, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria made bringing the sergeants back a top priority.
“Senior leadership examined the 1-to-100 ratio between the (sergeants) and cadets and lobbied for an increase ... to better represent the Air Force’s officer to enlisted ratio and to ensure the well-being of the cadets,” the academy said on its website.
Sergeants play a key role at the academy, where graduates will pin on lieutenant’s bars.
As the base level of military leadership, sergeants show cadets the skills they’ll need as officers.
They are also the stern disciplinarians who keep order in the ranks and serve as an additional force to keep cadets in line.
Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Bouchee, the top enlisted airman in the academy’s cadet wing, said the additional sergeants will help boost cadet training and ensure “work-life balance” for the sergeants now in place.
Cadets need to learn all about the enlisted troops they will be expected to supervise after graduation, Bouchee said.
“Eighty percent of the active duty Air Force is enlisted,” Bouchee said on the academy’s website.
For the sergeants working in the cadet wing, a 60-hour workweek has become commonplace after the downsizing. While the cadet chain of command technically runs cadet squadrons, the sergeants serve as father figures and mentors, whose job can run 24 hours a day as the cadre for their charges.
The 40 extra sergeants will also allow the academy to have more expert oversight of the school’s summer basic training, when the freshman class is introduced to military life.
Academy commandant Brig. Gen Kristin Goodwin said the sergeants will also prepare cadets for future battlefields.
“The experience and motivation they bring shapes our cadets into the superior warriors and leaders we need,” Goodwin said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx