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Active duty training program ends at Rosecrans

1st Lt. Michael D. Morris, 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, is the last of seven active duty officer trainees to be certified through the Airfield Operations Officer Training Course June 2, 2011.  This program is located at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kelsey Stuart/NOT RELEASED)

1st Lt. Michael D. Morris, 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, is the last of seven active duty officer trainees to be certified through the Airfield Operations Officer Training Course June 2, 2011. This program is located at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kelsey Stuart/NOT RELEASED)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron is closing its Airfield Operations Officer Training Course here at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base.

The Air Guard's training program for active duty Air Force officers who enter air traffic control is no longer needed, said officials.

"Overall, I am proud of what we have accomplished with the program," said Maj. John M. Howie, commander of the 241st. "We produced quality officers for this career field."

In the summer of 2006, the Air Force reformed training for airfield operations officers. The Air Guard agreed to provide that mission qualification training and built a training program from the ground-up.

The program allowed for two years of training - one year training in tower, radar and air field management and one year for professional development before reassignment to an active duty Air Force base.

"The program allows new officers to concentrate on air traffic control and air field management instead of being swamped with additional duties," said 1st Lt. Michael D. Morris, of Coal Valley, Ill. "If I had gone somewhere else, I would not have gotten the same exposure."

Morris was the last of seven active duty officer trainees certified through the program here. He earned his control tower certification after 10 months' training on local procedures and air traffic control. He now serves at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., as an airfield operations flight commander.

"Not a lot of lieutenants have the chance to receive such a unique experience working with the Guard and ATC assets that active duty does not offer," said Morris.

The primary responsibility of air traffic controllers is to direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. They separate various aircraft to prevent collisions, organize and expedite traffic flow, and provide information to pilots.