Small unit, big impact
By Staff Sgt. Connor Estes, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 29, 2011
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- A requirement to train more than 2,000 Liberty Wing aircraft maintainers is a dynamic task for a large shop. At least that's what most would think. Instead, the 372nd Training Squadron, with less than 20 personnel, undertakes this duty.
"Not many people outside of the maintenance community knows who we are, what we do, or even where we are located," said Capt. Scott Baker, detachment commander. "A lot of times I get 'Are you at Feltwell'?"
Detachment 16 is based out of Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and belongs to Air Education and Training Command. The 372nd is responsible for 27 detachments worldwide and instructs primarily on advanced training on fighter, bomber and helicopter aircraft.
"We have 14 instructors and they are in the classrooms, or out on the flightline and backshops helping train maintainers daily to get the mission done," said Baker.
To ensure maintenance personnel gain knowledge of the advanced aircraft systems they're assigned, their instructors have to be highly qualified according to Master Sgt. Bradley Eckles, detachment chief. Instructors are required to have a Community College of the Air Force degree completed within one year of assignment since they are teaching CCAF-accredited courses.
"We offer more than 55 different courses for eight different [Air Force Specialty Codes]," said Eckles. "In 2010, detachment 16 instructors taught 242 courses and provided 18,000 hours of instruction."
Detachment 16 plays a valuable role in the Liberty Wing mission of providing worldwide responsive combat air power and support.
"Simply put, the aircraft [F-15 and HH-60] would not have highly skilled and trained mechanics to maintain them, which would mean they couldn't fly," said Baker. "That's why we are vital to the Liberty Wing mission."