GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Goodfellow Air Force Base has focused on education and training since opening a primary flight training school in 1941. In 1958, after both world wars ended, the flying training school transformed into a cryptologic training base, which expanded by 1966 to include the Army and Navy and, within a decade, the Marine Corps.
As the years rolled by, Goodfellow AFB continued to adapt with the ever-changing needs of the Air Force by introducing a technical training center in 1985.
Eight years later, Goodfellow AFB further adapted by activating the 17th Training Wing to help train, develop and inspire over eight different military intelligence and fire protection career fields and even expanded its training efforts to include foreign allies.
While many bases closed over the years, Goodfellow AFB survived throughout history by adapting and modernizing to training needs continuously.
“In 2018, we had a new National Defense Strategy come out,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lavor Kirkpatrick, 17th TRW command chief. “That strategy essentially shifted how we think about the force required to defend our nation.”
As the first update to the strategy since the world wars, the NDS hit Goodfellow AFB with such a force in 2018, it’s still rippling through the base today.
“It’s important to me as a wing, as an organization, that we are moving along in trying to train and educate the future force of intelligence and fire professionals to go out and do great things for America,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’ve been really passionate about revamping our professional development construct so we have a deliberate approach to professional development, covering all the bases we need to build a more ready, resilient and a rapidly innovative force.”
Falling under the Air Education and Training Command, Goodfellow AFB builds a more ready, resilient and rapidly innovative force by modernizing learning inside its 250,000 square feet of secure training facilities.
“As for our part in the National Defense Strategy, we are going through a course rewrite to fill in some of the future defense needs as far as intelligence is concerned,” said Tech. Sgt. Eugene Smith III, 315th Training Squadron instructor. “Right now, we are incorporating more space objectives into our courses because it’s one of our growing domains. Things we will need five or 10 years from now.”
In the All Source Intelligence Analyst course specifically, teaching in ways to address visual learners has been emphasized.
“We use real-world examples whenever and wherever we can,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Brown, 315th Training Squadron instructor. “We reconstruct the information into examples that are relatable to the students, such as video clips, websites, props and media.”
Making information easily understandable for all types of learners can help students with future operations.
“In this career, you could be plugged into any intel support function,” Brown said, who has taught the All Source Intelligence Analyst course for over two years. “From air to space, it doesn’t matter where you go because in some shape or fashion you are providing predictive intelligence to a decision maker or customer.”
Students are also encouraged to discuss their thoughts in small groups.
“Active learning is definitely a big push,” Brown said. “All of the squadrons are implementing it into the courses and we are adjusting our teaching style to how newer generations learn.”
As another effort to modernize, classrooms adopted classroom layouts that college classrooms have been using outside of the military for the past decade.
“The desks are arranged in pod styles in some of the classrooms, which offer a more conducive learning, rather than desks just being lined up in a row,” Smith said, who has personally taught over 200 graduated intelligence students. “You would be surprised how much students learn and better communicate simply by how their desks are set up.”
The pod-style desk arrangements create an easy-access peer network for students to discuss ideas, which allows students to develop their critical thinking skills.
“In the classroom, if an unclassified news report comes out, students shouldn’t rely solely on what that indicates,” Brown said. “We teach the students to use a simulated classified message traffic to decipher, sort and cross-check actual information.”
Other learning strategies include hands-on educational advances.
Brown said students can also learn visually with props such as miniature F-15 E Strike Eagle and F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
With the support of leadership and the Air Force, innovation continues to grow.
“Every instructor here cares about the success of their students,” Smith said. “We are always running ideas up the chain for improvement.”
In the face of increasing global disorder, Goodfellow AFB does what it has always done: brings forth the change needed for the future.
“To carry out any strategy, history teaches us that wisdom and resources must be sufficient,” said former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. “I am confident this strategy is appropriate and worthy of the support of the American people.”
As a training base, Goodfellow AFB’s remodeled learning structure is key to developing the next generation of professionals who will carry out worldwide dominance.
“We need to shift our mindset and begin thinking about high-end competition with near peer competitors like China, Russia and North Korea,” Kirkpatrick said. “When you shift that mindset, it changes how we approach warfighting readiness. We need to change, because tomorrow’s fight will be more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous than today’s fight.”