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Civil Air Patrol to provide IT training to Keesler AFB technical school graduates

Katrina Jackson (center back) with CAP National Headquarters’ information technology team meets with Airmen from the Program Executive Office-Business Enterprise Systems at CAP’s facilities on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Sept. 18, 2019. Civil Air Patrol and PEO-BES signed a memorandum of understanding recently that allows newly graduated technical school Airmen to spend six months at CAP to further immerse themselves in software coding while giving CAP additional manpower on its IT development team. (Courtesy photo)

Katrina Jackson (center back) with CAP National Headquarters’ information technology team meets with Airmen from the Program Executive Office-Business Enterprise Systems at CAP’s facilities on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Sept. 18, 2019. Civil Air Patrol and PEO-BES signed a memorandum of understanding recently that allows newly graduated technical school Airmen to spend six months at CAP to further immerse themselves in software coding while giving CAP additional manpower on its IT development team. (Courtesy photo)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Civil Air Patrol is embarking on another innovative partnership with the U.S. Air Force, one that will provide critical information technology training to recent Air Force technical school graduates.

A memorandum of understanding between the Air Force and its auxiliary was signed earlier this month by the CAP national commander and CEO, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, and Rich Aldridge, program executive officer for Business and Enterprise Systems at Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex.

“One of the things that I’m really proud of from an Air Force perspective is there seems to be, from the top level, more of an embracing of innovative solutions,” Smith said. “We’re always on the hunt for areas where we can help our parent service.”

The memorandum of understanding allows for CAP to partner with first-term Airmen who have just completed technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and are assigned to the BES Directorate. Every six months, four to six software coders will work at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell to immerse themselves in CAP’s well-established Agile DevSecOps software framework. In turn, these Airmen will provide valuable, additional manpower that will help CAP satisfy increased demands on its small development team.

Katrina Jackson of CAP’s information technology team is already working with the first group of Air Force software coders, who reported to national headquarters last week for introduction to CAP staff and program orientation. Jackson said she is treating the Airmen like interns, which she says is good for them as well the CAP software developers.

“They learn mentorship and sharing, which helps in the development of everyone,” she said.

The BES Directorate recently established one of the seven Air Force software factories within the BES Product Innovation, or BESPIN, team. BESPIN is creating in-house custom desktop and mobile applications for a variety of Air Force customers out of the BESPIN location in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, and The Cantina located at Pivotal Labs in downtown Atlanta.

The partnership with CAP affords BES another practical, hands-on training opportunity for their Airmen to learn modern development methodologies. CAP, being local, provides this additional experiential learning without the burden of additional temporary duty costs and lets Airmen stay at home.

“This truly is a win-win for CAP and BES,” said Aldridge, adding that his directorate is “front and center” on reforming Air Force business operations, which is No. 3 on the list of the secretary of defense’s priorities.

“This couldn’t be a better situation for us to bring some of our Airmen over here to learn another way to implement agile development practices,” he said.

Aldridge said he thought the partnership will eventually help his Airmen deploy software and mobile capability faster and at a higher quality.

“Air Force users have come to expect the same capability at their fingertips at work that they have in their personal lives … and they should have those expectations,” he said.

Senior Airman Daniel Shepard, one of the Airmen who reported to national headquarters, said he hopes his six months with CAP will not only get him and others up to speed on the Agile DevSecOps framework, but also help him better understand the “whys” of software development.

Airman 1st Class Christian Wojteczko agreed, saying, “I expect to bring skills back to the Air Force for me to use, as well as the other Airmen.”

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually. CAP’s 65,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace and STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to more than 27,000 young people participating in CAP’s cadet programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for more information.