Air Force Intelligence Training:

Vector to the 21st Century

by Senior Master Sergeant Alan R. Dowling, USAF

U.S. Air Force intelligence has always been geared to the needs of the warrior. Traditionally, Air Force general military intelligence (GMI) has focused on tactical and strategic intelligence requirements of the combat Air Force. These requirements included target identification, mission planning, air crew support, and battle damage assessment. Cryptologic intelligence has focused primarily on the needs of national consumers and has held a more strategic view.
Air Force intelligence requirements have evolved into less of a stovepipe structure since Operation DESERT STORM. They now integrate GMI and cryptologic intelligence to effectively satisfy both tactical and strategic intelligence requirements. As with all military operations, effective training is critical to the success of this structure.
Training is a key area in the Air Force Intelligence Strategic Plan. The plan's goal is to produce intelligence experts thoroughly versed in Air Force operations and to institutionalize flexible, responsive training processes. This training goal directly supports the Strategic Plan's value on people, stressing people as the key to team success and emphasizing personal and professional growth. Training is a linchpin in the Air Force Intelligence Vision of delivering unsurpassed intelligence and achieving operational supremacy through information dominance.

Cradle to Grave Training

The Air Force considers education and training as a career-long process, involving professional military education (PME) and technical training. Officers and enlisted personnel have several levels of mandatory PME.
Enlisted or officer personnel who enter intelligence can expect a robust initial training period. The goal of Air Force intelligence training is to produce a mission- ready intelligence professional skilled in aerospace and information warfare concepts and able to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence from all sources to effectively support or conduct operations at the component and joint level. Officers attend more than 31 weeks of technical training. Following basic training, enlisted personnel attend Air Force specialty code (AFSC) technical training for 13 to 90 weeks, depending on the course.
The Air Education and Training Command's 17th Training Group (TRG) at Goodfellow Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, conducts the majority of Air Force intelligence training. Goodfellow AFB is a former World War II bomber training base in San Angelo, Texas. The 1000-acre base boasts excellent training facilities, recently constructed, quality billeting and base housing, as well as a recreation area at one of the nearby lakes. The 17th TRG graduates approximately 6,500 enlisted personnel and 350 officers every year from all the Services.
Although the 17th TRG provides most of the Air Force's intelligence training, some AFSC training occurs at the other Services' bases, including the Presidio in Monterey, California; the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and the Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Enlisted Career Path

Enlisted personnel have a specified career path that includes four levels of technical skill: apprentice, journeyman, craftsman, and superintendent, followed by chief enlisted manager. They achieve these skill levels through a combination of technical training and experience.
Apprentice (Skill Level 1-4). Once individuals graduate from basic training, they receive their intelligence AFSC and, upon arrival at their first assignment location, enter a period of qualification training. This on-the-job (OJT) training familiarizes personnel with the local mission and lets them apply the skills and knowledge learned during formal training. This mission qualification period can be quite extensive; for example, by the time enlisted cryptologic linguists qualify to work the mission without supervision, they have typically been in the Air Force nearly three years. Skill levels beyond apprentice represent both experience in the job and further training.
Journeyman (Skill Level 5). After three months of this apprenticeship period, airmen's supervisors may enroll them in upgrade training for the next skill level. This consists of specific OJT requirements and often a correspondence course. The airman can expect upgrade training for 12 months. To receive skill level 5, apprentices must attain senior airman rank (E-4) which takes about 36 months.
Craftsman (Skill Level 7). Air Force policy requires a mandatory, in-residence course for skill level 7. For this skill level, an individual can expect upgrade training for 18 months. Furthermore, individuals must be staff sergeants (E-5) to reach skill level 7. The average promotion time for this rank is 7.5 years.
Superintendent (Skill Level 9). An individual upgrades to skill level 9 upon promotion to senior master sergeant (E-8) and completion of the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
Chief Enlisted Manager. The training path peaks at the Chief Enlisted Manager level when an individual attains the rank of chief master sergeant (E-9).

Career Field Education and Training

All AFSCs must have a Career Field Education and Training Plan (CFETP). The Air Force Career Field Manager (AFCFM) formulates the CFETP for that AFSC, along with representatives from major commands and joint activities. This document is in all enlisted training records, allowing all personnel in an AFSC to have a clear view of their career field's requirements and opportunities. Each career field CFETP contains career progression information, all the mandatory and suggested training related to that AFSC. The plan also includes the specialty training standards that stipulate the mandatory tasks and knowledge requirements for each skill level. Air Force policy encourages officer CFETPs and one is under development for the intelligence officer career field.
The Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence's AFCFMs establish policy for intelligence career fields and are responsible for monitoring how units use personnel in the AFSCs and ensure training. They must also accurately classify career field requirements. AFCFMs monitor use through close coordination with the commands and joint activities that use the intelligence career personnel.

Training Requirements

Intelligence training has always been user-defined. Through Air Force or Department of Defense (DOD) forums, major commands or other DOD operational users state the need for the specific skills and knowledge required of each Air Force intelligence specialty. These requirements are the basis for AFSC training. The pace of technology, force drawdowns, and greatly broadened Air Force missions, both traditional and non-traditional, are causing rapid changes in operations. The scope and pace of these changes highlight the need to forecast potential training needs early in order to prepare training for these new missions and requirements.
Lieutenant General Kenneth A. Minihan, the Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, has established an Intelligence Training Advisory Board (ITAB) to study and discuss changing defense intelligence activities, project training requirements to support those activities, and craft new, more effective training approaches. The ITAB consists of a core cadre, core functional staff, and subject matter experts. The core cadre ensures consistency in methodology and provides input as necessary. The core functional staff helps provide the ITAB with a non-intelligence perspective on issues. The transitory functional staff membership varies, composed of individuals with expertise in the issue before the ITAB. The ITAB better prepares the training community for future intelligence missions and requirements by ensuring training reflects operational reality.
The Air Force has streamlined the process for validating training requirements in order to speed training development. Under this streamlined process, the Education and Training Division (ETD) in the Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) is the focal point for training requirements identification. (See Figure 1.) ETD is the conduit for feedback between AIA field units, major commands, the 17th TRG, and the AIA liaison officers with the Intelligence Air Staff (intelligence counterpart officers). The ETD evaluates feedback, validates changed or new requirements with the major commands, joint activities, other Services, and DOD agency users, and provides those training requirements to the 17th TRG. Similarly, the ITAB forwards potential training requirements that they have identified to ETD for validation. The training requirements associated with information warfare will be the topic for the first ITAB.

Information Warfare Training

Information warfare is an outgrowth of telecommunications technology. Industrialized nations have easy access to information through computers, modems, telecommunications nodes, satellites, and so forth. The Air Force views information warfare as another realm of warfare. Within the information warfare environment are additional warfare options against traditional air targets and corresponding vulnerabilities.
General Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, considers information warfare so important to warfighting that an Air Force team recently briefed every commander in chief of the U.S. unified commands on Air Force efforts to incorporate information warfare into doctrine and integrate it into force deployment. Some level of information warfare training will be included in all Air Force AFSC training. Several AFSCs, including intelligence, will likely deal heavily in an information warfare environment; these career fields will tailor training to meet their specific information warfare needs.

Changing Structure and Mission

Information warfare is not the only challenge for intelligence training. The Air Force has undergone unprecedented change in the last few years. There has been a top-down restructuring of the Air Force to meet the needs of a post-Cold War world and force drawdowns. Furthermore, policy changes made technical and upgrade training more thorough and meaningful. The force restructure and training policy changes have combined with new technology to create new opportunities for intelligence training.
Like the other Services, Air Force manpower has been shrinking at the same time the multi-polar world has caused missions to drastically expand. Additionally, due to high operational tempo, new intelligence graduates must apply their training earlier than their predecessors in an environment where missions constantly evolve. These factors directly impact intelligence training. In the past, the Air Force updated training requirements on a three- to five-year cycle, unless field input or usage changes dictated the need for an out-of-cycle review. Course design and implementation took up to eighteen months. In the post-Cold War world, mission requirements change rapidly; the training paradigm for a bipolar world is less effective in today's multi-polar global situation.
To meet these rapidly evolving requirements, the 17th TRG commander, Colonel Donald Freeman, challenged his training staff to improve curriculum development and delivery. They responded with ideas that are driving changes to traditional Air Education and Training Command course design. These include essay tests for some courses and an expanded, week-long, simulated exercise scenario designed to provide officer and enlisted students a realistic introduction to intelligence operations by combining elements of both GMI and cryptologic intelligence training.
The 17th TRG is addressing what is euphemistically called the "data dump syndrome" in order to overcome the memorize-test-forget method of learning of some its courses. The Voice Processing Training System (VPTS), a computer-based system designed for cryptologic linguist training, is a continuing success. In the VPTS training, students receive knowledge training on a subject, then they are immediately given opportunities to apply that knowledge in performance exercises. This process strongly reinforces the knowledge training.
Goodfellow AFB is also reengineering intelligence officer training, dramatically changing the way instructors present information to the students. Historically, instructors gave officer students huge amounts of information in the traditional lecture method and tested their retention using multiple choice tests. The new training direction in shifts the responsibility for learning to the individual student, using a classroom design that closely emulates a standard field unit. The day's learning activities center around a typical work day at the unit. Students, under an instructor's supervision, research and present briefings on topics formerly taught by instructor lectures. Students then use the information from these briefings in a series of daily operational activities patterned after normal unit functions. Verification of learning no longer relies on multiple choice tests; instructors ask students to provide short answers to questions or write essay responses to ensure they have mastered the material. So far these innovations have only been in officer training. The 17th TRG at Goodfellow AFB will evaluate the results and plans to implement similar changes in enlisted training courses.

Exportable Training

Technology is driving another training innovation: new methods of exportable training. Also termed "distance learning" and "job-site training," exportable training courses can be on computer disk or in multimedia forums (compact disk-read only memory, secure video teleconferencing, etc.). If trainers can effectively teach a course via exportable means, the training becomes less expensive and more accessible. An obvious advantage is the cost savings: units need not pay costs associated with temporary duty assignments to training. An additional advantage is the potential for exportable training to reach a much larger audience, as training schedules can adjust around mission constraints. The Air Force offers several such intelligence courses. For example, the new Joint Imagery Analysis Course, an exportable version of the Defense Sensor Interpretation and Applications Training Program (DSIATP), will be available in the fall of 1995.

Consolidated Training

The Air Force has a long-standing commitment to seek efficiencies and reduce redundancy through consolidated training. The training may be consolidated (teaching identical Services' training requirements) or colocated (teaching at the same school using differing Service standards as training requirements). In the past several years, there has been a significant trend for all Service personnel to receive training on tasks and knowledge requirements common to all Services. This training is truly joint in that an Air Force student may receive skill training formerly taught only to U.S. Navy and Marine Corps counterparts who, in many cases, are now learning what were once Air Force-only skills. Such graduates are well prepared to function in a joint operational intelligence environment.

Joint Training

The U.S. experience in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM emphasized the importance of joint warfare. Just as we should train the way we fight, the Air Force remains committed to joint training. DOD appoints a Service as responsible training authority for specific intelligence systems or as executive agent for intelligence disciplines. The Air Force is the executive agent for advanced imagery training. The DSIATP course is the only Air Force GMI executive agent training currently available to all Service personnel. However, the Air Force plays a larger role in multi-Service intelligence training as a part of the Cryptologic Training System (CTS).
Within the CTS, the Air Force is the executive agent for cryptologic linguist and analysis and reporting training; both disciplines are at Goodfellow AFB. (See Figure 2.) At Goodfellow AFB, soldiers, sailors, and marines are in a unique situation; outside the training compound, personnel are responsible to their respective Service units. However, when their work involves cryptologic training (i.e., as instructors or curriculum developers) they report through the appropriate training squadron to the 17th TRG commander. Under the CTS, the Air Force plays a part in the other Services' intelligence training facilities as well, with training squadrons at Fort Huachuca for Morse code training, and NTTC Corry Station for signals analysis training. These training squadrons have the same dual reporting situation at those locations as Army, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel do at Goodfellow AFB.
An excellent example of joint cryptologic intelligence training is the Consolidated Intermediate Analysis and Reporting Course (CIARC). Multi-Service working groups crafted the training requirements for this course; the course uses advanced hardware and software. CIARC came on line in April 1995. It is also unique in that the Air Force agreed to let the Army teach CIARC in conjunction with its Basic Noncomissioned Officer Course at the Military Intelligence Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Air Force made this decision to aid the Army with its concept of dual PME and technical training. However, as executive agent, the Air Force retains responsibility for course content and will ensure training meets Air Force and course training standards.
U.S. Air Force intelligence is focusing on the future, which holds challenges and opportunities. In addition to information warfare and responsive training development to meet rapidly changing mission needs, the Air Force Career Field Managers are working with operations and training personnel to ensure mission requirements and training delivery keep pace with each other. Air Force intelligence training continues to meet today's requirements while preparing for the needs of the intelligence professional of the 21st century.
Senior Master Sergeant Dowling is Chief, Cryptologic Intelligence Force Management and Foreign Language Programs for the Force Management and Training Team, Directorate of Plans, Policy, and Evaluation, Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. He has performed a variety of duties in the cryptographic linguist career field, most recently as cryptologic linguist superintendent and flight commander. You can reach him at DSN 761-4784 or commercial (703) 681-4784.