JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The 59th Training Group initiated the Air Force’s Orange Rope program at the Medical Education and Training Campus pinning nine Airmen during a ceremony held on Jan. 7, 2022.
Orange is the newest opportunity in the ropes program, the first of its kind in the Air Force. The focus of the program is to establish an innovative mindset for students early in their Air Force career.
“Students will be trained on various innovative technologies and Air Force unique administrative policies for them to leverage,” said Lt. Col. Catherine Bonhoff, 59th Training Group deputy commander. “Learning the Air Force's existing processes concerning innovation, funding, and acquisition while in technical training equips the students to have a major impact at their gaining stations and beyond. This has the potential to dramatically impact their respective career fields and the Air Force at large.”
During technical training Airmen have the opportunity to gain leadership roles among their peers. To symbolize these roles, Airmen wear various colored ropes on their left shoulder. The orange rope now symbolizes leadership in innovative thinking and process improvement.
In December 2020, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown wrote “We must move with a purpose – we must Accelerate Change or Lose…” in the CSAF Action Orders to Accelerate Change Across the Air Force. This set off a chain reaction throughout the Air Force empowering every Airman to challenge themselves to be more innovative and forward thinking.
The goal to deliberately develop Airmen into problem-solvers and establish ownership in their environment is already in action. In line with the commander of the Air Education and Training Command, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb’s priority to cultivate an environment of excellence, these students transformed the Acton Dorm student lounge, located on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, into a curriculum enhancement room with various medical virtual reality trainings and a dedicated study space. They are also requesting emerging technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printers.
“Although their primary job is to learn their trade,” said Bonhoff. “They can absorb and practice the basic principles of innovation and process improvement while they are attending tech school, thus becoming the Airman Accelerators that the Department of the Air Force needs to shape its future.”