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I/ITSEC 2016: USAF intel sees app-ortunities

27th November 2016 - 17:03 by Grant Turnbull in London

I/ITSEC 2016: USAF intel sees app-ortunities

The US Air Force is trialling new ways to train its intelligence personnel, including app-based, mobile training that is more suited to the high-tech millennials that now swell its ranks.

The Air Force Cryptologic Office (AFCO), under the 25th Air Force (25th AF), has partnered with Air Education and Training Command, to look at ways it can train the 12,000 intel professionals that are assigned to the 25th AF.

Almost 70% of those personnel have less than five years military experience and many are part of a generation that has grown accustomed to absorbing information through mobile devices and downloading applications – or apps. 

‘Through iOS, Android and Windows applications, training specialists are employing innovative technology to simplify complex topics so the air force will be in front of technology, not behind it,’ said Frank von Heiland, part of the AFCO’s Intelligence Force Management and Training Division.

Applications are unclassified and present ISR analysts with ‘difficult-to-learn and highly technical concepts utilising interactive applications’, according to the air force.

The idea is that personnel will no longer be anchored to a desktop computer, which is important as personnel regularly deploy, resources remain scarce and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology becomes more sophisticated and readily available.

‘The 25th AF has taken a competency- and proficiency-based approach to education and training,’ said von Heiland in a USAF statement. 

He added: ‘Our new, interactive multimedia instruction combines state-of-the-art presentation technology with graphics, text, voice, video, sound effects and animation to create effective, engaging learning experiences.’

The 25th AF – which is responsible for intelligence missions within the USAF – is sponsoring a training programme called mobile applications and games for intelligent courseware (MAGIC), with the aim of making the learning process more engaging for airmen.

Other benefits of a ‘mobile learning’ approach could include increased comprehension and retention, shortened course lengths and reduced overall costs.

According to the USAF, there are currently 17 new intelligence training apps being used in classrooms at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. The advantage of the apps is that unlike paper manuals, they can be updated at any time with minimal disruption. 

As well as mobile learning, the use of virtual reality is also being explored as a training tool.

For more from I/ITSEC 2016, see our dedicated news page.

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