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See combat systems officers’ mission, schoolhouse through the eyes of an instructor

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  • By AETC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Education and Training Command’s commitment to valuing instructors continues with the Instagram takeover series with an AETC force generator who serves as a combat systems officer (CSO) instructor from the 479th Flying Training Group, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Aug. 31.

Capt. Ileana Pinero-Diaz, 451st Flying Training Squadron instructor, joined the CSO schoolhouse in December 2020. An F-15E Weapons Systems Operator by trade, Pinero-Diaz decided to become a CSO instructor because of her love for teaching and being able to accept a joint assignment alongside her husband.

“I am excited for the opportunity to showcase not only what combat systems officers do, but what we are all about,” said Pinero-Diaz. “The CSO mission is important to the Air Force as we are the integrators of electromagnetic spectrum, sensor and weapon operations for the Air Force.”

CSOs are rated, aviator-trained in navigation, electronic warfare, special operations, weapons employment and mission command.

The CSO program at the schoolhouse begins with a primary phase, which includes academics and T-25 simulators, which curriculum in areas such as enroute and combat navigation. From there, students transition to the T-6 portion of the flying training.

After an introductory phase of the T-6s, students will track select, proceed to their specialized training based on the selected track, then into T-1 flying and T-96 simulators. Upon successful completion of training, students receive their aeronautical rating, basic CSO wings and follow-on training at a formal training unit for initial qualification on a specific platform.

“The impact I have on students as they go through the course is something special and I value that,” said Pinero-Diaz. “It excites me to see them develop and begin to understand the CSO mission and what we bring to the fight.”

As the Air Force's only training pipeline for CSOs, the 479th FTG mission is “to develop the world’s best CSOs for the Air Force.” Within the 479th FTG, the 479th Operations Support Squadron, 479th Student Squadron, 455th Flying Training Squadron and the 451st Flying Training Squadron, work in concert to graduate more than 350 CSOs annually.

“The lessons and knowledge our force generators instill into the next generation of Airmen through development, mentorship and leadership is unmatched,” said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, AETC command chief. “What makes our Air Force the envy of the world is the training, education and development of our officer, enlisted and civilian Airmen corps, and the majority of that occurs right here in AETC.”

The Instagram takeover is one way AETC highlights the importance of quality instructors, who ensure that the next generation of Airmen maintain a competitive edge over adversaries.

Follow AETC on Instagram at aetc_firstcommand to see this takeover Aug. 31 and visit https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/AETCvaluingforcegenerators to learn more about valuing force generators.

Find AETC on Facebook at Air Education Training Command; Twitter at AETCommand; and LinkedIn at Air Education and Training Command.

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