For ISR training, the future is now

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- On Wednesday, the 17th Training Group took a major step toward implementing an enlisted Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance training transformation at Goodfellow Air Force Base as the first ISR class to begin the 17-day Intelligence Fundamentals Course kicked off.

Historically, individual Airmen learned little beyond basic definitions about the missions of other intelligence specialties (also known as the 1N Air Force Specialty Code). This new course provides scenario-based, interactive lessons that allow students to "experience" how fused intelligence from multiple sources produces comprehensive reports. These lessons are designed to build basic knowledge for all ISR Airmen, a foundation on which Airmen will build progressive career training events culminating with Goodfellow's new Enlisted ISR Master Skills Course.

"This is the start of a no-kidding continuum of training at Goodfellow," said Chief Master Sgt. Frank Pazdernik, the chief enlisted manager for ISR at Headquarters Air Force who was at Goodfellow for the ISR Chiefs' Summit last week. "This isn't just for entry-level Airmen but NCOs and officers as well. They're training for a career, from entry to retirement."

A 14-member working group, headed by Maj. Timothy Dunn from the 316th Training Squadron, authored the course curriculum over a six-week period. The team symbolized a true Total Force Initiative with representatives from four squadrons, seven specialties, Air Force Individual Mobilization Augmentees and civilian technical training experts. The team exploited the best of existing curriculum and created innovative lessons that lay the foundation for cradle-to-grave training.

With the help of the National Security Agency, the team developed critical thinking lessons to formally and more cerebrally teach the "tools of the intelligence trade." Now, Airmen will be provided the same toolset as civilian professionals across the intelligence community. After only 40 hours of critical thinking training, students will brief on the application of basic theories of analytical thinking and processes for generating hypotheses when faced with an intelligence scenario.

Simply put, our intelligence analysts are more prepared to analyze data from a multitude of sources. In today's warfighting environments, our Airmen are deploying to jobs that are challenging their analytical intellect. The fundamentals course allows all enlisted intelligence Airmen to begin their careers with a common baseline on the disciplines of intelligence. From this baseline, they may be asked to do various tasks in signals intelligence, human intelligence, measurement and signature intelligence, imagery intelligence and even open source intelligence.

Colonel Anthony Lombardo, 17 TRG commander, said the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General team commented during the recent Unit Compliance Inspection that they were "re-blued" by the 17 TRG's adaptability to contingency operations and implementation of realistic, operationally relevant training. Milestones like the fundamentals course, Colonel Lombardo said, illustrate the adaptability to real world scenarios which the IG inspectors were exposed, and how the latest and greatest tactics, techniques and procedures being utilized in the Central Command Area of Responsibility are being incorporated into pipeline Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance training. Multiple intelligence disciplines are being used to hunt, monitor and target violent groups and individuals. It was crystal clear to the IG Team that Intel and fire training have institutionalized lessons learned from our current operations in CENTCOM.

"There's a much better, clearer understanding between ISR career fields," said Senior Master Sgt. Karla Jordan, a linguist assigned to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, who was also at the Chiefs' Summit. "As we deploy more and work together more, we gain a clearer understanding of everyone else's contributions to the Air Force." Chief Master Sgt. Michael Perry, an intelligence professional assigned to Langley Air Force Base, Va., at Goodfellow for the summit, agreed.

"The more the different intelligence disciplines understand each other, the more often they will cross over job boundaries," Chief Perry said. "Learning about each others' jobs builds synergy within the ISR professions."

(Senior Airman Stephen Musal contributed to this article.)