A united effort in aerospace control|
Posted 10/19/2007 Updated 10/22/2007
by Staff Sgt. Vesta Anderson
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/19/2007 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Four times each year, approximately 12 international students from across the globe are selected to attend the International Air Weapons Controller and Theater Air Operations Courses conducted at the 325th Air Control Squadron here.
The International Flight at the 325th ACS trains foreign Air Battle Managers on U.S. Air Force tactics, techniques and procedures for combat air operations by introducing new concepts for command and control, air defense, airspace control and more.
According to Capt. Thomas McCann, 325th ACS International Flight commander and IAWCC/TAOC instructor, the training program is sponsored through the Air Force Security Assistance Training Program.
"Our two international courses teach U.S. command and control tactics, techniques and procedures from strategy to task, teaching officers from more than 50 coalition partner nations how to take strategic-level policy decisions and objectives and develop them to become tactical-level airpower operations," said Lt. Col. Ted Davis, 325th ACS commander.
The IAWCC/TAOC instructors do this by providing the tools necessary for the students to become knowledgeable and proficient as controllers. The Air Education and Training Command certified instructors are officers, enlisted and civilians; each having six to more than 30 years of experience in their field.
The IAWCC/TAOC simulation pilots are Airmen who assist the instructors by "driving" replicated radar returns in mock flying scenarios and speak pilot lingo in order to help provide a more realistic approach to training.
"IAWCC students are typically entry-level controllers," said Captain McCann. "They have already been certified in their country. They come here to learn our techniques."
Individuals selected must have the aptitude for the course and must meet U.S. security standards. They are also subject to a fitness screening and must be able to speak or learn English, explains Captain McCann.
The IAWCC is a fundamental command and control course that provides initial qualification skills, said Captain McCann. It entails 25 challenging simulated missions such as: air refueling, tactical intercepts and large force exercises.
Maj. Reinhard "Mick" Hofstaedter is the current international student enrolled in IAWCC. As an air traffic control supervisor in the Austrian air force, Major Hofstaedter said he is looking forward to learning the course from a weapons controller perspective.
"They go through the same syllabus as our U.S. ABMs, but without access to classified information," said the captain. "It's rigorous training; the U.S. ABMs go through nine months of training; the foreign students do the same amount of instruction in only 40 days."
During large force exercises, which can have up to 220 simulated aircraft involved, students must work together as they demonstrate task proficiency in Defensive Counter Air, defending against enemy advances; and Offensive Counter Air, managing strike packages.
It's during these exercises that the knowledge and skill of the students and the training staff is demonstrated.
"TAOC is a higher caliber course for international ABMs who perform duties at an operational level," said Captain McCann, explaining the second portion of international training.
Basically described as "war games," TAOC is an extremely detailed level of training on war planning and execution.
The final goal is to achieve specific objectives such as: minimizing loses, reducing collateral damage, target effectiveness and package management.
The students fulfill these requirements in a distinctive training environment.
Inside a cool and dimly-lit operations room, 18 scopes with linked communications display unclassified tactical interface which would typically be observed from command and control platforms.
"I'm used to air traffic control simulators," said Maj. Hofstaedter. "The simulators here are easier to use. It's a different environment."
The relationships created through this program and the training instilled plays a vital role in the future of allied forces.
"The most important things I hope the students take away from this experience are both the core skills they learn here and a lasting relationship between our two countries," said Captain McCann.
For the U.S., fighting along side coalition countries is normality during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, explains Captain McCann. "Later in their career, when foreign controllers are serving side-by-side U.S. controllers, they will understand our methods," said the captain.
Colonel Davis agrees these programs are important.
"In the Global War on Terrorism, our coalition partnerships are critical to our success," said Colonel Davis.