!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Mission Essential Competencies

Friday, April 03, 2009

Mission Essential Competencies

In a 2006 report titled "Linking Knowledge and Skills to Mission Essential Competency-Based Syllabus Development for Distributed Mission Operations" (pdf), researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory provide an example of how the Air Force is using "mission essential competencies" (MECs) to guide training design. The approach they use can be adapted by civilian organizations seeking to tighten the links between needed competencies and the training provided to employees.

The Air Force defines MECs as"the higher-order individual, team, and inter-team competencies that a fully prepared pilot, crew or flight requires for successful mission completion under adverse conditions in a non-permissive environment [hostile situation]."

For air-to-air combat, the seven MECs are:
  • Organize forces to enable combat employment

  • Detect factor groups [suspicious entities] in area of responsibility

  • Intercept and target factor groups

  • Engage-employ ordnance and deny enemy ordnance

  • Do assessment/reconstitute-initiate follow-on actions

  • Remain oriented to force requirements

  • Recognize trigger events that require a shift in the mission phase
In order to develop these air-to-air MECs, the Air Force designs training that bolsters specific types of knowledge and specific skills:

Air-to-Air Knowledge Requirements
Communication standards
Commit criteria
Engage criteria
Follow-on options
Friendly capabilities
Mission objectives
Package composition (aircraft involved in mission)
Phase of mission
Rules of engagement
Threat capabilities
Time restrictions

Air-to-Air Skill Requirements
Adapts to changes in environment
Adapts to friendly changes
Adapts to threat changes
Anticipates problems
Builds picture
Controls intercept geometry
Develops new options
Executes merge game plan
Executes short range game plan
Interprets sensor output
Maintains formation
Makes assessment
Manages mission timing
Manages stress
Prioritizes communications
Radar mechanization
Rebuilds picture
Selects tactic
Sorts information
Sorts targets
Speaks clearly
Switchology (which switch to flip when)

Subject matter experts are surveyed to identify "critical experiences," i.e., "developmental events in the training of a warfighter, necessary either to learn or practice a particular Knowledge/Skill under operational-like conditions." The experiences (see below) are then incorporated into training scenarios.

Air-to-Air Experiences
Restricted weapons load
Limited fuel remaining
Operating area restrictions
Restrictions to visibility
Visual illusions
Marginal/minimal cloud clearance
Daytime employment
Dusk employment
Night employment
Mountainous terrain
G-induced physical limitations
Degraded communications
Degraded navigation
Degraded weapons employment
Battle damage
Supersonic employment
Full range of adversary air threat/mix
Full range of adversary ground threat/mix
Operations with friendly IADs
[integrated air defense systems]
Operations with own and friendly ECM
[electronic countermeasures]
Operations against threat with chaff/flares
[Chaff is strips of metal film released to confuse and reflect signals from radar-guided weapons.]
Operations with friendly use of chaff/flares
Operations against communications jam/spoofing
Operations against adversary ECM
Rules of engagement limitations and restrictions
Fatigue/time on task
Task saturation
Limited time to act/react to situation
Radar search responsibilities
Targeting and sorting responsibilities
Air refueling
Live weapons employment
Simulated weapons employment
Various initial conditions
Emergency procedures
Formation responsibilities
Lost mutual support
Dynamic retasking/scramble operations
Various employment altitudes
1:1 force ratio
1:2 force ratio
1:3+ force ratio
OCA escort missions
OCA sweep missions
["Offensive counter air" is suppression of an enemy's military air power by destroying or disabling the aircraft on the ground and/or destroying or crippling the runways and other infrastructure necessary to operate them.(from Wikipedia)]
Employment with various packages

The aim of the MEC-based syllabus development is to make training as efficient at possible by designing focused scenarios that maximize competency development for a given amount of training effort.

When tested, this approach achieved good results: "experienced warfighters made dramatic improvements in their ability to 'kill and survive' in just four days, through the focused development of their Knowledge and Skills which was facilitated by a well-designed syllabus."


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