Fort George G. Meade, Md --
When it comes to having the leading edge in air, space and cyberspace, non-commissioned officers from the 70th Operations Support Squadron have taken it to a new level, training Airmen on the importance of Air Force National Tactical Integration (AF NTI).
Being the lead wing for AF NTI, the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing has made upgrades to its mission success with help from its’ 70th OSS. Their main goal is to train analyst waiting to begin in their assignment as AF NTI analysts with minimal mission and manning impact, and in an efficient and timely manner. NTI’s mission is to leverage critical national intelligence community information and capabilities, working as an enterprise that collaborates to enhance Air Component operations around the world.
“As the previous AF NTI Program Manager for the wing, I was responsible for resource management, which includes systems, manning, funding and baseline training AF NTI Enterprise,” Staff Sgt. Bazil Rivera, Air Force NTI non-commissioned officer in charge, 70th OSS, said. “In April 2015, I was moved into the wing mission training office for the purpose of standing up a new training course for all AF NTI analysts.”
Rivera and co-workers saw there was a need to redefine the training that Airmen were receiving prior to moving into their new work centers. The previous training was outdated and did not meet the needs of the AF NTI Enterprise, Rivera said. In order to form holistic learning environments, the team needed to understand what was missing from their training.
“The main hurdle was resources, both manning and fiscal,” Master Sgt. Daniel Caulder, wing mission training superintendent, 70th OSS, said. “Staff Sgt. Rivera has almost single handedly developed this course and has done so in a fiscally demanding environment. I'm proud of how far we've come along with minimal resources. It was a big endeavor, and one I wasn't sure we'd be able to deliver on. I expect we'll have a completely funded and vetted training for the enterprise for the foreseeable future.”
Through the Air Combat Command A2OT, the AF NTI program was able to receive an avenue for funding which allowed Rivera to begin building the foundation for the new curriculum.
“Analysts’ Initial Certification Training and Mission Certification Training both came in the form of online handbooks that are given to Airmen as a DIY, with little oversite,” Rivera said. “They were not learning efficiently, so we decided to start over and started building this course. From there, we sent request to the 28 sites around the world for feedback on what they saw needed improvement.”
The key focus for AF NTI training will be to remove the obsolete information and re-program how Airmen think and respond, Rivera said. Airmen begin with three validation classes to build and vet the material before making it an enterprise requirement.
“Our first validation class was held the end of April through May (2016), which introduced the shell of what we imagined the class to be,” Rivera said. “We had 10 subject matter experts from across the enterprise come in and help us build the course from scratch.”
Once the foundation was settled and fine-tuned, the teams began to build scenarios and testing exam questions to ensure Airmen were cleared to be analyst. In the next few months, a second class was conducted with a mix of experienced and new analysts. This gave the instructors a better view of what was useful to the career field’s progress, Rivera said. The feedback was broken down into palpable information for the Airmen to better support the ‘big picture’ NTI missions and its customers.
Rivera said in classes they are expecting to mix mostly new analyst and experienced Airmen so they can learn from each other, as well as pass along lessons learned.
“Something that we’ve identified across the board, from all the students, was that they were able to meet analyst from all of our sites, and they found that the most valuable piece,” Rivera said. “What we’ve also identified and are lacking in the enterprise is that some people do not network outside of their elements, which is a problem because there are so many other elements that can help and reach out to each other. They can make new contacts, work together and build better products for their customers.”
Currently, there are only a hand full of cadres assisting with the training, including active-duty and contracted civilians. Within the next few years, the goal is to have a fully supported cadre of instructors with AF NTI experience.
“This training is going to benefit the entire AF NTI Enterprise,” Caulder said. “Time wise, we will cut down their training from 30 to seven days. We're also ensuring a baseline across all AF NTI elements to better support our tactical and national customers.”
Recently, another class completed their training, which put integrated and knowledgably charged Airmen back into the fight. With the 70th OSS working meticulously to upgrade their Airmen across the globe, the 70th ISRW can continue being unrivaled in air, space and cyberspace superiority.