Air Force

May 11, 2012

IFTU graduates 1,000th student

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by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Mansour, 56th Operations Group intelligence instructor, provides feedback to 1st Lt. Kevin Lukowiak, Tech. Sgt. Mark Miller and Senior Airman Ariana Evans, F-16 Intelligence Formal Training Course students, on their presentation of an Initial Mission Planning Cell briefing May 4 at Luke Air Force Base. The class graduated its 1,000th student today.

After 15 years, the 56th Operations Group F-16 Intelligence Formal Training Unit graduated its 1,000th student today at Luke Air Force Base.

Intelligence personnel started going through the F-16 IFTU, originally known as the Top-Off Intelligence Course, in late 1997, according to Ed Rutkowski, 56th OG F-16 IFTU course manager, who became an instructor shortly after the course began.

“The 1,000th graduate is an important milestone because it shows how far we have come,” he said. “I’m proud to have been around to watch it all unfold. The 1,000th graduate reflects the hard work of countless instructors over the years.”

The F-16 IFTU was the first Initial Qualification Training of its kind, Rutkowski said. It has highest number of students and graduates compared to other intelligence IQT programs around the Air Force.

“Our primary attendees are intelligence Airmen assigned to F-16 units,” he said. “Students vary in rank from airman first class to lieutenant colonel.”

Due to the classified nature of the course, the instructors and students couldn’t divulge too many details. But, the goal of the course is to prepare Airmen for life surrounded by F-16 fighter pilots.

“The course begins with a building block approach to train Airmen on fundamentals and concepts before moving on to the systems and capabilities of the F-16 itself, to include the weapons the Viper can carry and employ — both air-to-air and air-to-ground,” Rutkowski said. “Then, we teach students about the capabilities of adversary aircraft, anti-aircraft artillery, surface-to-air missile systems, and the tactics different countries use to employ their systems.”

Although this is a mandatory requirement for intelligence Airmen who work with operational F-16s, all 11 graduates had different reasons for taking the course. One said he attended the course to prepare for weapons school.

“This course taught me that the more you understand your own capabilities, the more effectively you can employ your forces,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Lukowiak, 23rd Fighter Group chief of intelligence academics, who is stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. “The course has given me a detailed understanding of how to tactically employ F-16s.”

Tech. Sgt. Mark Miller, 52nd Operations Support Squadron, said he attended the course because he’s never worked in an F-16 unit and needed to gain experience for his new position at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

“The most beneficial portion of the course was giving a pre-mission brief to F-16 pilots,” he said. “I feel there is no better feedback we could have gotten.”

Although the five-week course was very challenging, Miller said it was well worth his time and efforts.

“After taking this course, I will feel much more comfortable and confident in my unit,” he said. “I know if I’m called upon, I can handle the additional responsibilities.”




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