The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance Airmen in today’s Air
Force are much more technologically savvy than their predecessors, and
the Air Force Cryptologic Office at Twenty-Fifth Air Force is
revolutionizing the way modern Airmen learn to win the fight. (Courtesy
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
Note: Some last names have been removed for security reasons.
The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance Airmen in today’s
Air Force are much more technologically savvy than their predecessors,
and the Air Force Cryptologic Office at Twenty-Fifth Air Force is
revolutionizing the way modern Airmen learn to win the fight.
Airmen of the millennial generation and younger generations are
accustomed to having a plethora of knowledge at their fingertips through
their cell phones.
“They are able to pull information quickly, multi-task using
technologies, socialize in virtual environments, and solve problems
through gaming,” said Chip von Heiland, AFCO Intelligence Force
Management and Training chief.
“Considering this, and our ever-changing workforce, we had to initiate a
systematic approach to designing and developing training, which led to
us creating easily accessible, visually enhanced training through
virtual reality and computer-based resources; something previous
generations only dreamed of,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Alan, a Twenty-Fifth Air Force analyst, wishes he had
experienced more visual training methods when he entered the military.
“I remember back when I was in training, how much I would have preferred
to see and visualize things rather than just read books about it,” he
said. “Using virtual reality to train the Airmen coming through now is a
great idea. This generation is really good with technology. They have
grown up with it, so that is what they know.”
In contrast to Alan’s one-dimensional analysis education, the new tools
AFCO provides to ISR technical schools like those at Goodfellow Air
Force Base are revolutionizing analysis training and, contrary to
belief, not all these innovations are expensive. Future analysts are
using cardboard virtual reality headsets and utilizing cell phones to
learn how to visually identify aircraft.
“It is exciting, and it is engaging. The training just pops out at you;
you are right there,” said Master Sgt. Oneika, a Twenty-Fifth Air Force
intelligence analyst who spends much of her time briefing pilots on
visual recognition of enemy aircraft. “This type of technology will pull
Airmen in so they will want to learn more.”
Another addition to the ISR training revolution is OCTANE, or the online
critical thinking and analysis environment, an electronic library of
information and products that help analysts enhance their critical
“OCTANE is a repository for all military analysts and the intelligence
community, and it is available anywhere, anytime, and in any
environment,” von Heiland said.
The repository is full of information, short courses, applications and
games to help analyst build critical thinking skills, something that
requires frequent engagement, he said.
“The benefit of OCTANE’s collaborative vault of knowledge is having the
vast amount of data in one place, where users and contributors can learn
from each other,” he said.
OCTANE is designed for today’s learners, and keeps users on their toes
with daily competitive challenges where analysts from across the globe
go head-to-head, building their skills. It also provides gamified apps
and a growing collection of courses.
Even though the site contains mass amounts of information, von Heiland
said users can choose what and how to utilize that information, allowing
them to gather what they need in more bite-sized and manageable
“This is the first time a collaborative effort has brought together the
best work from both the military services and the intelligence
community,” von Heiland said. “It is this partnership that makes OCTANE
possible and successful in revolutionizing analysis.”
Building on their efforts to revolutionize and modernize ISR analysis
capabilities worldwide, AFCO’s personnel are continuing their search for
the best way to train Airmen, in the way they can best learn.
“The past few years have forced us to innovate to continue meeting the
warfighter’s demand for rapid collection and distribution of ISR
information around the clock and across the globe,” von Heiland said.
“Just as we have met that challenge, we will continue to promote force
development and training innovations, promote partnerships in ISR
education, and most importantly, capitalize on our greatest asset, our