Revolutionizing Intelligence - Part Two: Setting higher standards

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kellyann Novak
  • 108th Wing Public Affairs Office
Technology plays an important part in the mission of the 204th Intelligence Squadron; however, the high quality of the squadron's instructors is equally a force multiplier.

With members remaining in the squadron for 10-20 years, the 204th is able to provide a level of continuity that many active duty units cannot. By having a stable level of manpower, the 204th is able to provide instruction to the Air Force active duty and reserve components as well as civilian counterparts, local law enforcement agencies, Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

To become a certified instructor takes Airmen approximately 365 days. Instructors usually consist of staff sergeants or senior airmen who are about to put on staff and midlevel officers with at least four years of experience.

Those Airmen selected to become instructors start by going through Academic Instructor Course which is two weeks long. This course gives the Airmen the basic building blocks for lesson development and test prep.

Following AIC, the next six months are centered on getting certified hours behind a podium in a classroom. The Airmen are required to complete approximately 180 hours of classroom training that involve teaching the material in front of a student, administering tests and preparing lesson plans. An experienced, certified instructor mentors the newer instructors throughout the process. By the end of the first year, the Airmen are required to have three certified evaluations. Instructors must be reevaluated every year for each different lesson they teach as well as take a subject matter expert test on all of the knowledge which they must receive at least a 90 percent score.

The 204th instructors that have gone through this rigorous certification process are responsible for teaching courses for the AMC's intelligence analysts and provide training support to different units and various military and civilian organizations including the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

One of the courses that Tech. Sgt. Shawn P. Reilly, a 204th instructor, teaches is the Anti-Terrorism Level II training course. Reilly is part of a mobile training team that travels to guard units all over the country to conduct training. The MTT supports 93 guard units throughout the country.

"It was created for cost savings because instead of paying for 50 or more people to travel here for training, one to three instructors can be paid to travel to them," said Reilly. "We go to different locations to conduct the training. A lot of these units are small guard units that normally wouldn't get access to a training course."

This course is centered on anti-terrorism officers, security forces and intelligence analysts but is open to anyone. "It's an important course to teach because there are anti-terrorism representatives in every squadron and we get people from public affairs, civil engineering, medical, etc.," said Reilly.

Limited by manpower, the MTT is only able to teach the course every other month. The AT2 course and MTT are in high demand and are booked through fiscal year 2019, and the requests are still flowing in!

The MTT usually consists of two or three instructors and is very labor intensive. "The hard part of the course is that it's very broad, so you have to have an in-depth knowledge of a multitude of abilities, not just intelligence, because you're going over things like contracting and civil engineering," said Reilly. Almost every Air Force Specialty Code on the installation is tied into the course so that every squadron can have an anti-terrorism representative to be able to go over specific vulnerabilities within their squadron and buildings.

Just like other Airmen, the instructors still have requirements like physical training tests and ancillary training that they have to keep up-to-date. The 204th has future goals of getting involved with virtual training which would allow the instructors and students to have a live, teleconference type training followed by a Q&A session. This could alleviate the need of flying to a unit to teach a course, and then if they have questions, having to follow up at a later time. "We have been pushing towards all of the interactive side of training, but it could take some time to be able to implement this idea," said Reilly. "We have to make sure the units that we interact with have the same capabilities as us to be able to conduct a teleconference."

Tech. Sgt. Philip A. Geppi, another 204th instructor, along with Reilly, feel that the instruction is important and helps to give back to the community. The most important skillset they strive to help build and shape is critical thinking. "We can show them where and how to gather information, but the important thing, and the hardest part, is that they learn to analyze it and validate it," said Reilly. "In a fluid and dynamic environment with things constantly changing, it's important to teach analysts to think on their feet and evolve with the situation."

"We also spend a great deal of time helping them learn how to leverage the help of the entire intelligence community," said Reilly. "It's very important to build those networks with other agencies to help fill in the missing pieces and provide the most complete answers we can to those who ask the questions."

Along with providing instructor support, the members of the 204th have created products available via their SharePoint that allows other members in the intelligence community to access the information they need and request support. The SharePoint is open to the whole Department of Defense, not just the guard. They've built additional training products either for internal training to the unit or to the community. This gives the opportunity to stay current with training and with any course material that may change over the years. It also allows units to continually train and evaluate themselves on the courseware that they're given. For those not doing that job day in and day out, they may need a refresher in certain areas. The SharePoint gives them the option to grab the specific product they need for that scenario and go over it.

Responsible for providing instructor support and leading courses for the Department of Defense's intelligence units, the 204th instructors go through an in-depth formal training and bring that asset to the Air Force. Both aspects have contributed towards the 204th receiving accolades from AMC.