As measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continue to change everyday life, service members at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., have been adapting to the ‘new normal’ of social distancing policies while maintaining mission readiness.
Although social distancing policies institute challenges, they have also encouraged innovative solutions to ensure mission completion.
While many intelligence Airmen tentatively navigated the waters of minimum manning and telework, one intel Airman felt empowered to create and launch an online course to bolster her fellow Hunter’s ability to remain proficient in their craft.
Capt. Clare, 732nd Operations Support Squadron chief of intelligence weapons and tactics, created Archer University, an online resource designed to refresh and refine the skills of intelligence Airmen.
“Archer University is our answer to the work-from-home order,” Clare said. “In a nutshell, it’s an online classroom.”
The course was created through a free-to-use online program that many universities use to conduct online courses. Classes are conducted three times a week for intel analysts, and delve into topics helpful to Airmen’s current positions in the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, while sharpening and enhancing traditional skills.
There are currently 150 students enrolled in the program, along with several experienced instructors from intelligence units across the Wing, including reserve and tenant units.
“Archer University has been very helpful for someone like me,” said Tech. Sgt. Deb, all-source intelligence analyst with the 78th Attack Squadron, a reserve unit embedded within the 432nd Wing. “I’m a re-trainee, and still fairly early into my intel career. I think for (minimum manning), it’s a great way to stay engaged and keep concepts fresh in our minds. For those of us who aren’t on shift and are working from home, it allows us to think about the mission and continue to sharpen the tools we need to research and analyze.”
Deb said the program’s course load is similar to taking a 4-5 hour college course online, and serves a purpose of providing continuous training, which despite being unclassified, would normally have taken place in a vault at Creech AFB.
Weekly courses involve assignments focused on a specific topic for the week. Some of the program topics include GPS operations, joint targeting doctrine, radar physics, stealth physics and analytical methodology.
Clare said they hope to continue providing well-rounded training. She and her fellow course instructors provide the students a mix of instruction on technical concepts, and methodologies each week; also having them study real-world examples in military history. Students are also tested through application exercises involving scenarios relevant to that week’s instruction to allow students to apply everything learned.
“The program allows for a lot of reinforcement of what we’ve been taught in our technical training, and on-the-job training,” Deb said. “You also get a lot more feedback on group assignments because there are so many people with varying degrees of experience in the field that can offer their expertise and help you understand the content better.”
According to Clare, the intent is for the program to continue providing benefit to intelligence Hunters, and to evolve into other training initiatives, even after the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
She went on to express belief in the program’s applicability to intelligence units across the Air Force, as Airmen in the career field all face a similar internal struggle.
“Once Airmen are done at Creech, they could be sent anywhere else in the world, another job, which could be radically different from this one.” she said. “Our challenge as trainers is to keep our people sharp, so they are in a good place when they tackle their next mission.”
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing leadership have praised the creation of Archer University as an example of how Airmen adapted to the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19, and continue to win any fight, any time and in any place.