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A-10 Intelligence Training to Take Place in Idaho

GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- The military is known for its rigid form and structure, but the reality is that success on the battlefield requires the ability to quickly adapt to new information. This is one lesson that A-10 intelligence personnel know well.
The name of the game in intelligence is knowledge, and making quick decisions requires that personnel have as much knowledge as possible before they deploy. Can an A-10 fly fast enough to arrive in time? Does it have the firepower capable to complete the mission? These questions have to be answered on the fly by mission planning personnel. When intelligence professionals graduate from technical school, they are not fully qualified to provide these answers.
For most aircraft, there are Intelligence Formal Training Units scattered across the Air Force that fill in this knowledge gap for new trainees. The A-10, however, has been sorely missing from the mix. To remedy this problem, the Idaho Air National Guard has stepped in to fill this important requirement and become the only guard unit in the nation to host a school like this.
In 2007, the 124th Wing's Operations Support Flight received funding to start the program and the 124th OG/IFTU was officially born.
"The A-10 IFTU is designed to provide intensive academic and combat-related job training skills for newly trained intelligence professionals assigned to A-10 squadrons combat Air Force wide," said Maj. Steve McHargue, commander of the IFTU. "Upon graduation trainees will achieve advanced skill levels resulting in a more experienced cadre of intelligence personnel available for worldwide A-10 deployments."
The four-week course will significantly reduce the training required when students arrive at their home stations.
Gowen Field is perfectly suited to host this new mission. From a student comfort perspective, it is easy for personnel to fly into Boise, find accommodations, and enjoy the local area, but the real benefit comes from the military diversity located on base. For real-world missions, the A-10 interacts with joint forces, Army armor and air divisions, and units with unique missions within the Air Force, like the ground forward air controllers of the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron. With all of these assets available locally, students will have opportunities to get hands-on experience outside of the classroom.
To train students inside the classroom, a student computer network and mock mission planning cell are being built with the goal of giving students an experience that is as close to combat as possible.
Starting a new mission like this is no easy task, and has required the coordination of units across the base including communications, civil engineering and security forces.
Tech. Sgt. Sara Pippitt has been acting as the IFTU resource advisor and has been at the center of getting the mission started, from funding, to curriculum, to advertising positions, Sergeant Pippitt has been keeping the ball rolling.
"Working with the new mission has been an experience filled with many trials and errors," she said. "But the effort is worth it because the Idaho Air Guard will be able to showcase its 'first class or not at all' spirit to the entire Air Force." Standing up the mission is only the beginning of the hard work.
Teaching the classes will be no easy task, and all of the instructors must have deployment experience to maintain their qualifications and set the standard for A-10 mission planning. So far the majority of the experience is coming from right here at Gowen Field, with 124th intelligence personnel joining the IFTU.
The current plan has trainees arriving and classes officially starting in the first half of 2009. Each class will have 12 students, with up to 8 classes a year. With curriculum under development, construction plans coming together, and hours of hard work paying off, the IFTU is well on its way to becoming a top notch school that will benefit the entire Air Force.