39th IOS: Foundations for the future

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michelle Vickers
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Airmen assigned to an air operations center work on a team consisting of members from several career fields. Together, they plan and execute air campaigns. Meanwhile, cyber Airmen have the no-fail mission of defending the nation's networks from attacks.

The 39th Information Operations Squadron here trains IO and cyber warriors to work in these environments.

The 39th IOS graduates more than 1,000 students annually from a variety of courses which cover subjects like electronic warfare and operations security.

"From my perspective, we aren't only educating, but we're training future graduates to be able to go out in their environment and react in real world situations," said Capt. Angela Shalduha, 39th IOS instructor.

The school house's instructors, which span 18 career fields, provide valuable expertise to students of all ranks.

Whether a brand new instructor like Shalduha, or a more seasoned veteran such as Staff Sgt. Latisha Taylor, the instructors bring their operational experiences from AOCs and defensive cyber units across the Air Force.

"My background as an intelligence briefer helped me with the public speaking aspect of teaching," Taylor said. "I was at an AOC for a year, which also gave me a good knowledge of what we teach on the IO side, as well as how everything integrates."

The broad range of career fields and experiences allow instructors to pull from their colleague's knowledge when topics they are less familiar with arise. It also allows students to see how different specialties work in unison.

"Parts of our classes involve IO or intelligence, so we'll pull experts from those areas to teach," Shalduha said. "It really helps having a diverse staff because it gives students a better perspective of the operational environment at their units."

New instructors go through a training process where they must take and excel in the course they will teach. They also attend an instructor methodology course to learn how to teach, test and develop curriculum. After their courses, training isn't over. They must complete 180 hours of student teaching and pass three classroom evaluations.

When not in front of the classroom leading guided discussions or directing students through simulations, instructors research the latest techniques in their fields, according to Shaldhua.

"The instructors on the podium actually make updates to the curriculum," Shalduha said. "If you're not current, you're losing in cyber."

While the background research and preparation may require long hours, the instructors said they see the payoff in their students.

"We have actually received emails from students who have been through the training, which said, 'If I hadn't gone through the training, I wouldn't have known what to do at my unit,'" Taylor said. "Just seeing this, and realizing I had a hand in it, is rewarding and satisfying."