Air Force Featured Stories

Acquisition Instructor Course updates provide Airmen with opportunities to innovate, collaborate

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather

The Air Force Materiel Command Acquisition Instructor Course continues to enhance integration between the acquisition, industry and operational communities.

The mission of the AQIC program is to train
highly skilled acquisition instructors and leaders in tactical and strategic knowledge to meet the operational needs of tomorrow’s multi‐domain battlespace.

“AQIC’s curriculum consists of a series of unique and challenging academics, experientials, exercises and graded events that build both technical and adaptive skills. We produce multi-capable, adaptable team builders who are innovative and courageous problem solvers,” said Capt. Deanna Kerkhoff, AQIC chief of training. “These attributes directly align with the chief of staff of the United States Air Force’s Accelerate Change or Lose directive.”

As the acquisition community’s partnering institution to the
U.S. Air Force Weapons School, AQIC was established in 2019 to create an avenue for constant acquirer and operator collaboration. It’s a highly selective, five-and-one-half month course for both Air Force and Space Force officers and civilians in the 61-65 (and equivalent) career fields.

Upon graduation, students join a lasting community of trusted professionals and problem solvers whose network spans all levels of Air Force capability requirements – both in acquisitions and in operations.

“These vast spheres of community influence become spheres of potential in the fight to disrupt our adversaries and maintain competitive advantage–both in air and in space,” Kerkhoff said. “We’re focused on producing multi-capable, adaptable team builders who are innovative and courageous problem solvers, able to leverage this potential.”

New initiatives for AQIC include the implementation of an unconventional training approach that seeks to put students’ knowledge to the test as they solve complex acquisition problems. Mission Case Exercises are full-day, collaborative, cross-functional events that promote a “Train How You Fight” mentality.

Throughout each exercise, student teams are introduced to numerous realistic occurrences that challenge their ability to adapt and handle pressure in a dynamic environment. At the end, the team lead delivers a decision brief to a senior leader in a realistic role play scenario.

“We cultivate adept communicators who
are able to develop and deliver a well-crafted message, and who are driven to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of those surrounding them. This is done through both formal and informal interactions, rather than standard classroom-style teaching,” Kerkhoff said.

A new, “Go-Live Class” was also introduced in January. AQIC sent four program graduates to the annual Combat Air Forces Weapons and Tactics Conference.

“In January, we sent four AQIC Patches to the CAF WEPTAC to bridge the gap between the Acquisition and Operations communities,” Kerkhoff said. “CAF WEPTAC is an annual event that brings together hundreds of warfighters to discuss current and future issues, and to provide solutions for joint force employment in order to remain relevant on the world stage. This year’s conference called for identification of potential materiel solutions to resolve the issues assessed, which is where our grads put their advanced acquisition skillsets to the test.”

Recently, leaders announced the 22B cohort selections. The program opened its door to 11 acquirers instead of the standard 10, to include its first-ever civilian.

“At the beginning of March, we announced the 22B cohort selections,” Kerkhoff said. “We received so many strong packages that we just couldn’t narrow it down to 10. Instead, we’ve opened the doors to an unprecedented 11 acquirers, including our first-ever civilian; for comparison, the current grad pool that built the schoolhouse from the ground up beginning in 2019 is only 25 strong.”

The goal of the program is to place graduates in positions that allow them to leverage skills and understanding of both the acquisition and operations communities to better support warfighter needs. The vision is to build a community of graduates who are keenly aware of the threat environment and near-peer adversaries’ capabilities.

Our students regularly receive threat briefs and spend a significant amount of time conducting experientials throughout this rigorous five-and-one-half month course,” Kerkhoff said. “These opportunities enable students to explore and understand the many ways the acquisition community can help counter these threats, thereby maintaining the nation’s enduring military advantages, ensuring credible deterrence and accruing advantage in the military-technological competition.”

Individuals interested in learning more about AQIC can
email the schoolhouse or visit their MilSuite site.