3/3/2015 – JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND — The 343rd Security Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland graduated three Airmen from the Combat Arms Instructor Apprentice Course, Feb. 24, directly following their completion of the Security Forces Apprentice Course.
Airman 1st Class Tyler Alexander, Ricardo Lugo and Tyler Rouillard were chosen from about 200 applicants interested in the opportunity to go through the CAI Apprentice Course directly after the completion of their initial SF technical school.
The Airmen were pipelined into the course in accordance to a trial in the process of prolonging the service of Airmen as CAIs; previously, Airmen were retrained into the career field after meeting certain prerequisites, such as promotion to senior airman or staff sergeant, said Chief Master Sgt. Tamala Hartz, 343rd TRS chief enlisted manager.
The trial directive came from Brig. Gen. Allen J. Jameson, director of AF Security Forces, to AF Security Forces Career Manager Chief Master Sgt. Stephen White and then to Hartz.
Prior to this trial, AF Security Forces Airmen were trained as defenders before having the opportunity to retrain into either “shreds”, or career fields, as combat arms instructors or military working dog handlers, explained Hartz. The Airmen’s time in either shred is reduced due to the change of duty to special education identifiers, SEIs, as soon as they promote to technical sergeant.
The process in identifying the three pipeline Airmen involved the agreement and understanding of leadership directive and the attention of the team at the 343rd TRS Security Forces Academy.
“The process of choosing the right Airmen was rigorous,” said Tech. Sgt. Rebeca Archuleta, Air Education and Training Command training manager at the 343rd TRS. “We wanted to select the best personnel with the highest test scores, zero derogatory comments, high progress checks and the recommendations from their flight chief and instructors. Airmen, soon to graduate the SF apprentice course, were given the opportunity to volunteer for this trial.”
After looking through about 200 applications and checking student records, three sets of interviews were held to narrow down the numbers to the final applicants. Hartz, Archuleta and Tech. Sgt. Dustin Walker, USAF CAI Apprentice Course chief, conducted the face-to-face interviews with the Airmen.
“We asked the Airmen problem solving, time management, and resiliency questions,” Hartz said. “The three Airmen that we chose had amazing story with life events that displayed resiliency and maturity. Their stories in conjunction with all the other factors made them finalists.”
Such high standards of qualification were set because the three Airmen will face challenges, Archuleta said. The Airmen must complete AF Career Development Courses as Security Forces cops and then complete the CDCs for CAI, while performing on the job training in both career fields.
First and foremost, the candidates are Security Forces Airmen, said Walker. As CAIs, they will conduct weapons training for AF personnel along with maintaining weapons parts accounts, ammunition accounts and other duties involving weapons firing and safety.
“These Airmen had to meet the same level of education and task requirement as those that have been active in the career field,” said Hartz. “There was no special attention or additional training for them. We wanted to make sure this was a fair and equitable process.”
The three Airmen talk about what’s expected of them as they move on as active members of the AF and what they are taking away from each apprentice course.
“After coming out of the course you really have an in depth, 360-degree perspective about what we are going to be doing as combat arms instructors,” said Alexander, soon to be stationed at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Learning about the nomenclature, the ins and outs, of weapons we had the opportunity to gain experience with was very interesting,” said Rouillard, CAI at Whiteman Air Force Base.
When asked about any challenges they overcame in the course Lugo, assigned to the 343rd TRS, said that he “was intimidated at first. But, our instructors and fellow students didn’t treat us as new Airmen.”
The section on learning how to instruct others allowed the Airmen to step out of their comfort zone, Lugo said.
“As pipeline students into this course we had to present to senior NCOs and that forced me to be comfortable as an instructor,” said Rouillard.
“I think success in this trial will show that Airmen have the opportunity to show leadership,” said Alexander. “As CAIs we going to be instructing, not only SF, but also everyone in the military that fires a weapon. This trial is allowing an Airman, that may not have as much experience as a NCO, give their knowledge.”
Before beginning the CAI Apprentice Course, there were high expectations for the Airmen. And with those expectations they have already begun proving themselves as trial candidates.
Both Lugo and Alexander received Distinguished Graduate of their CAI Apprentice Course and Alexander also received top instructor for graduating class 15002.
Hartz explains that the trial continues as the Airmen report to their first duty stations. Leadership will report how the Airmen are progressing through their CDCs and OJT.
“These are three amazing Airmen because their story is unique,” said Hartz. “We graduate about 4, 000 Airmen from the academy every year. These three are going to be different.”
by Airman 1st Class Justine Rho
502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Tyler Rouillard, Tyler Alexander and Ricardo Lugo graduate from the 343rd Training Squadron Combat Arms Instructor Apprentice Course, Feb. 24, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The Airmen graduated from the Security Forces Apprentice Course in December 2014 and directly enrolled into the CAI course in January. Typically, SF Airmen must complete certain prerequisites, such as promotion to senior airman or staff sergeant, before being retrained into the CAI career field. These Airmen were hand picked out of about 200 volunteer applicants; they had the highest test score, zero derogatory comments, high progress checks, were recommended by their flight chief and instructors, and stood out in a series of three interviews. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Justine Rho/released)
Airman 1st Class Tyler Alexander, Ricardo Lugo and Tyler Rouillard graduate from the 343rd Training Squadron Combat Arms Instructor Apprentice Course, Feb. 24, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The Airmen graduated from the Security Forces Apprentice Course in December 2014 and directly enrolled into the CAI course in January. Typically, SF Airmen must complete certain prerequisites, such as promotion to senior airman or staff sergeant, before being retrained into the CAI career field. These Airmen were hand picked out of about 200 volunteer applicants; they had the highest test score, zero derogatory comments, high progress checks, were recommended by their flight chief and instructors, and stood out in a series of three interviews. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Justine Rho/released)