July 2014 kicked off the reorganization and revamping of the training program for missileers in the 91st Missile Wing on Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
The new training program centers around two key topics; procedural aspects and conceptual aspects.
Procedural aspects entail being able to run and execute checklists that provide the capabilities necessary to execute the mission. While conceptual aspects focus on understanding the weapon system and how procedures affect the capabilities of the weapons system, said Capt. Robby Modad, 91st Operations Support Squadron chief of weapons and tactics.
The program was designed around a system where the conceptual side is taught in the classroom and procedural methods are taught in the simulator.
“In the past, the (OSS) provided a lot of the training for the simulator and classroom. It was kind of one size fits all,” Modad said. “Now the training is in the hands of the squadron so that it can be tailored, focused and operationally relevant.”
New missile wing officers come from Vandenberg, California, where they are initially trained in the basics of checklist processing, the weapons system, how to respond to different scenarios and how to execute on time. Upon arrival at their unit they undergo mission qualification training which informs them of local procedures and information not covered at Vandenberg, regarding conducting missile alert duties.
“Officers undergo training continuously while they are on crew,” Modad said. “I’m still on the training program and I’ve been doing this for nine years.”
After their initial orientation to their new unit, officers begin continuation training which has undergone the biggest change since July and will be conducted through the rest of their time on crew.
Major changes made to the continuation training have occurred in both the simulator and classroom. Instead of a one-size-fits-all trainer ride, there are two distinct types of simulator rides.
“The proficiency ride has a standardized script that gives the crew force a baseline on what they need to be proficient on for the mission,” Modad said. “The other ride has a flex script which allows the instructors to provide that tailored, focused and operationally relevant training. The crew commander has a big say in what goes into the flex ride because they can request different events that they need to be proficient on as a crew.”
A crew commander can request different events to occur in the simulator based on things they have seen or experienced in the field. If a commander feels his group needs more training on emergency scenarios they can practice them as many times as needed, as opposed to the past when only one ride was offered and specific things couldn’t be singled out and repeated. Training is now centered around the needs of each individual crew and has the ability to be tailored to their particular needs.
“The best way to improve morale is to let people make decisions,” Modad said. “You can now takes rides designed for the specific needs of the individual being trained.”
Crew commanders can choose from every ride option available when conducting a flex ride. Both the flex and proficiency rides have an hour of scenario discussion before beginning the simulation.
Each scenario’s difficulty can be adjusted and specific procedures can be requested as well.
“The biggest thing when we designed the program was to put it into the perspective of the crew and give them a better picture of what’s going on,” Modad said. “The goal is to empower crews and prepare them for any challenge that might come their way.”
Approximately three missile squadrons with 11 instructors per squadron use the program. The OSS used to supply both the training plan and instructors, however the OSS now develops training while it’s execution is in the hands of the squadrons.
Quarterly classroom training has also replaced monthly training and quarterly emergency action procedure tests. Quarterly training shows the big picture and explains the “why” behind procedures.
“Adding the ‘why’ behind things is a great way to motivate people to learn,” Modad said. “Codes, electronic warfare officer and weapons systems tests are now quarterly rather than monthly and needing improvements in specific areas is no longer a career threatening thing.”
The evaluation program is now more comprehensive compared to the past when only a simulator ride was required. Class sizes range from one-on-one to ten people. There are always two crew members, a commander and deputy in the trainer with the instructor.
Keeping the class small allows for more shared learning and eliminates a lot of hesitation to ask questions, said 1st Lt. Caitlin Ascherl, 741st Missile Squadron assistant flight commander. Training topics were once very segmented, but the crew commander now teaches routine procedures to their crew rather than using their trainer time.
“We’re really excited about this new training program and where it’s headed. A lot of commanders have really come out of their shells and are more excited to train now,” Ascherl said. “The changes to the training program are so positive, and I feel that it’s important to continue down this path. Hopefully future leaders will continue down this road and continue to empower their people.”
This article was originally published on the Minot Air Force Base website. Read it at the original source here.