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Wartime planning course prepares Airmen for duty

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jason Lake
  • Air University Public Affairs
As the Supreme Allied Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during the Normandy invasion of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower explained the importance of military planning when he said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

A course taught by the Air Force Doctrine Development and Education Center staff here also stresses to Airmen the importance of military planning and explains how the process filters from the commander in chief down to the lowest ranking Airman.

More than 60 military planners with various levels of experience and responsibility wrapped up Air University's two-week Contingency Wartime Planners Course.

The course, which is aimed at the junior NCO through senior field grade officer demographic, discusses military planning on the tactical, operational and strategic levels.

"CWPC is a planning fundamentals course designed to decrease the steep learning curve associated with contingency and crisis action planning," explained the course's chairman, Lt. Col. James Ruffing. "The main benefit of the course is the cross-talk that occurs across functional areas to produce a well-rounded planner grounded in the fundamentals."

Some of the topics included in the course are: national security strategy, command relationships, force and transportation planning, as well as base support planning.

Students also get first-hand experience shared by various guest speakers such as Gen. Arthur Lichte, Air Mobility Command commander; Army Lt. Gen. C.V. Christianson, Director of Logistics; Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Central Command Air Forces commander; and Maj. Gen. Kip Self, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander.

"I wish I had attended this course when I was a senior captain," explained Maj. Steve Odum, a 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center executive officer at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

The major explained that while he was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier in his career as a military planner, he used the Google search engine to find guidance and research for a planning project because he didn't know where else to start.

"Now I know and understand concepts and terminologies 'higher ups' used to discuss during the planning process," Major Odum explained. "A lot of information gets lost when you don't understand the terminologies and concepts that they talk about. I feel better informed for the next job, whatever that may be."

On the other end of the training spectrum, Senior Airman Angela Grenier, a logistics planner from the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., said she was glad she could take the course earlier than expected because it helped her understand where her job fits into the "big picture."

"It was great to see how things come down from leadership at the top and how it gets down to my level on the tail end," she said. "It's great background information that broadens my horizon."

Since the first class started in 1986, CWPC instructors have educated more than 15,000 students in all functional areas - including 681 planners last year.

The course is offered 10 times per year to Air Force planners. While most slots are funded by the Air Force Education Requirements Board, some are unit funded.

As a supplement to the residency course, CWPC staff offers an abbreviated three-day course and two week course through a mobile education team visit.

"The unit sponsoring the team pays for all TDY travel costs," explained Colonel Ruffing.

Course credit is only awarded for the two week version of the course and all graduates receive an "R" prefix on their AFSC if filling a planning billet. To schedule a MET, contact Colonel Ruffing at DSN 493-2887 or Ken Hill at DSN 493-2638. Airmen and civilian employees of equivalent ranks interested in attending the course in-residence can sign up through their base training manager in coordination with their major command functional managers.

Dates for the remaining CWPC courses this fiscal year are scheduled as follows: Feb. 25 - March 7, March 31 - April 11, April 28 - May 9, June 2-13, July 14 - 25, Aug. 18 - 29 and Sept. 15-26.
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