Biloxi — The population of Biloxi will grow over the next two years as the Air Force adds more than 8,000 airmen and many of them will come to Keesler Air Force Base to train.
In the next year, "We will turn around an additional 4,180 folks," said Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, who commands the operations of the 2nd Wing headquartered at Keesler. The command also includes training wings at Lackland, Goodfellow and Sheppard Air Force bases in Texas and a training group at Vandenberg in California.
Flowers said 784 of the new airmen will train at Keesler this year.
The need for more instructors at the five bases was a top story on the Air Force Times online edition on Jan. 8. The article said the original plan was to shrink the Air Force to 316,500, but new Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz ordered the force to grow to 332,700 airmen.
Flowers said they need 205 additional instructors and although all are identified, these instructors won’t all be in place until May or June. With the additional airmen already graduating from basic training, Flowers said they are adjusting class size, delaying the reassignment of some instructors and having others report to duty sooner. They've also hired some contract instructors at the other bases, he said, but not at Keesler.
Flowers said the enlisted airmen graduate from basic training at Lackland at 10 a.m. Friday and on Sunday night they leave by bus or airplane for technical training. Four or five 50-passenger buses make the 10-hour drive to Keesler with 200 to 300 new trainees showing up Monday afternoon.
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