AIR FORCE TRAINING
One way of looking at the Air Force Training Ribbon (AFTR) is that it is the lowest military decoration awarded by the United States Air Force. The other is that it marks the successful completion of the first step in a long and rewarding journey.
Authorized by U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Lew Allen, Jr. on 12 October 1980, the AFTR is awarded to Air Force members who complete their initial Air Force Accession Training Program. For enlisted personnel, this is Basic Military Training, or “Boot Camp,” an eight-week training program held at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. For officers, initial accession training programs include the United States Air Force Academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps, Officer Training School, and a variety of Corps-based training courses (Chaplain Orientation, Judge Advocate General’s School, etc.). Members of the Air Reserve Forces are also awarded the AFTR upon completion of their requisite training.
But the Air Force doesn’t hand out ribbons every time a Servicemember completes a new leg of training or education. Enlisted Airmen and officers alike will undergo training and education throughout the course of their careers, and successful completion of a technical training instruction or a course necessary for career development is not awarded with another training ribbon. On the other hand, later training that is related to accession—an enlisted Airmen who is commissioned after completing ROTC, for instance—is recognized with an oak-leaf cluster.
While General Allen’s decision to implement the AFTR has impacted every Air Force member since its implementation, his legacy is also recalled with the General Lew Allen, Jr. Trophy, an annual award that recognizes excellence in two categories of base-level individuals involved in the planning and execution of sorties: Aircraft, munitions, or missile-maintenance officers, and senior noncommissioned officers. His work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) following his retirement from the Air Force is also memorialized in The Lew Allen Award for Excellence, created to recognize significant individual accomplishments during the early years of individuals’ professional careers at the JPL.