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BMD Focus: Teaching The Right Stuff

It really is rocket science...
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Nov 03, 2005
U.S. Air Force Space Command has launched an ambitious program to maximize the value it gets out of its technically trained personnel.

"It is a comprehensive program to meet (our) professional and experiential needs to put the right personnel in the right job at the right time," Col. Edward Fienga, Chief of Force Development and Readiness, U.S. Air Force Space Command, told UPI. "We do have enough people to do the job, (but) we're trying to focus (on) the development of each individual."

The Air Force has now launched three different but inter-related training programs to upgrade the technical and professional capabilities of both their enlisted personnel and long-term officers, Col. Fienga said. "There is a Space 101 course for all the folks and then Space 200 and Space 300 courses," he said. The U.S. Air Force enjoys one of the most educated reservoirs of recruits of any military force in the world.

"Over 95 percent of our enlisted personnel come in with high school diplomas and many with college degrees," Fienga said. "We're getting very smart people. The Department of Defense and the Air Force require virtually all officers to have a college degree. "But that can vary from civil engineering to Shakespeare," Fienga said.

Space 100 is the accession level program, Fienga said. "(It is) the entry level education (for personnel) from all different backgrounds in the USAF to acculturate them to the requirements of the service."

The course lasts six weeks and is held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It focuses on operations, acquisitions and the fundamentals of science and engineering. "It is the gateway to space," Fienga said.

The second course, Space 200 is designed for officers who have served eight to 10 years in the Air Force and for enlisted personnel who have served nine to 11 years and it teaches how to operate space systems from the operational and tactical level, Fienga said. Space 200 also emphasizes the Joint Warfighting capacity of Air Force Space Command with other elements of the U.S. armed forces.

"We must be relevant," Fienga said. "Any (military) operation today is both joint and combined. We must understand how to operate our systems from this joint perspective."

The Space 300 program is a Space Education Capstone Course that is taught at Colorado Springs. Its aim is to prepare Air Force Space Command officers for senior level duties, Fienga said. This program only started this year in Fiscal Year 2005 and the first trial validation course of it has just been completed, he said. The expansion of the courses to upgrade the general technical and tactical capabilities of Air Force Space Command officers and personnel has been a prime goal of the command's current chief, Air Force Gen. Lance Lord, Fienga said. Between them, they are planned to create a "continuum" of formal space education, he said.

"The Space 300 program didn't exist before Gen. Lord," he said. Space-300 was designed to "create a cadre" of officers qualified to hold top command positions in Air Force Space Command who will be able to meet the needs of the nation's (space) defense programs into the foreseeable future," Fienga said.

"That's the strategy of the program," he said. "We want to set people up for success."

"We are currently assessing the career fields of all our senior officers," said Lt. Col. Thomas Peppard, Chief of the Space Professional Management Office. "(This survey) told us we could use more technical depth in our program." The aim of the new courses, therefore, is "to beef up the technical background" of the personnel taking them, he said.

With this goal in mind, Air Force Space Command under Gen. Lord's leadership has also been active in the creation of the Space Education Consortium, headed up by the University of Colorado Springs. It currently includes 11 constituent universities that help Air Force Space Command to provide certifiable programs, Peppard said.

"What is unique about the consortium is that it is the first in the nation. The University of Southern California has also signed up for it. This is all groundbreaking," Peppard said.

"We have really been helped by the University of Colorado Springs so we don't have to duplicate what's out there" in college programs that Air Force Space Command personnel can now take to further boost their expertise, he said.

"Not everyone needs a full-blown master's program. We're trying to normalize and standardize the kind of space-related education our folks have," Fienga said. "The three-level space education program is intended to help us to manage more effectively the inventories of human resources that we have."

All rights reserved. 2005 United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International.. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of United Press International.

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BMD Focus: Doubts About Interceptors
Washington (UPI) Oct 27, 2005
Is the drive to deploy a chain of ground-based anti-ballistic missile interceptors in Alaska faltering at the Pentagon? Do the Missile Defense Agency and the top policymakers at the Department of Defense believe that the 48 interceptors they are committed to deploying, one third of them by the end of this year, may not even work reliably? It is beginning to look that way.

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