ALCM summer training program prepares students for career opportunities

  • Published
  • By Melvin L. Ricks
  • Air-Delivered Capabilities Directorate, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center

The AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile is the United States’ only nuclear cruise missile and, since 1982, it has been a key component of the nuclear triad, providing the nation with strategic capabilities that assure America’s allies and deter its adversaries.
Although the missile was initially designed with a 10-year lifespan, it has been in use for the past 35 years due to the sustainment program managed by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s Missile Sustainment Division here.
While it is hoped that the ALCM never has to be launched, it can also never be doubted. That’s where the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s Missile Sustainment Division here comes into play, and with a mission so important they’re working to sustain the future of the division’s team through the 2022 ALCM Summer Training Program.
This is the third year for the program, which was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Two classes were held this year on June 6-10 and June 13-17.
Edward Rua, chief, Missile Sustainment Division, welcomed the students on the first day of each class.
"The ALCM Summer Training Program is a great opportunity for high school-aged kids of employees who work here in the ALCM program office and other program offices at Tinker to come and get a true experience of what it's like to work in a program office," Rua said. "These kids are being exposed to a lot of the same tools used in a program office to execute programs at all levels."
"We run kids through scenarios of real issues we've had related to the ALCM and allow them to come up with innovative solutions and determine how they would execute these solutions and brief the senior leadership team to get approval on their recommendations," Rua said. "These are the real things we do inside of the program office every day."
"I strongly believe these kids are our future," Rua said. "If we can get high school students interested, not necessarily working here in this office, but finding something that they can build from and be really excited and interested to work here at Tinker AFB, that's good for the Air Force, the Department of Defense and for the nation as a whole."
On Day One of the week-long program, the students were split into groups and immersed into a problem, and then required to brief on how they’re going to put their team together, what they’re charter is and how they’re going to work on it, as well as discussing their risks.
"The ALCM Summer Training Program affords students a wonderful opportunity to gain more insight to the Air Force mission at Tinker Air Force Base through the various tours across base, presentations and team project," said Robert Dang, chief engineer, Missile Sustainment Division.  “Hopefully, these activities will spark interest towards potential future career aspirations, not only in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, but also in program management, logistics, contracting, financial management and operations areas.”
At the end of the week, all of this information is briefed by the students to Rua, as well as other division branch chiefs.
In addition, tours, presentations and briefings were provided by a vast array of Tinker organizations which support the division’s mission, including the 72nd Operations Support Squadron, 557th Software Maintenance Squadron and 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
New this year, the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group’s Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Flight also supported the training program with tours that allowed students to see the practical applications of laser scanning, additive manufacturing and computer-aided design.
Additional guest speakers included the Air Force Sustainment Center’s historian and several Air Force officers, as well as presentations covering aspects of qualifying for the U.S. Air Force Academy, ROTC and Officer Training School for students with interest in serving our nation.
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The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is the nuclear-focused center within Air Force Materiel Command, synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of the AFMC commander in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command. It consists of five major execution directorates: Air-Delivered Capabilities; Minuteman III Systems; Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Integration; Nuclear Technology and Integration; and Sentinel (formerly known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent) Systems, as well as several directorates in various functional areas, such as contracting, personnel, etc.
Systems managed by the Air-Delivered Capabilities directorate include the B61-12 gravity bomb's tail kit assembly, Long Range Standoff Weapon, W80-4 life extension program, overseas Weapon Storage and Security System, Secure Transportable Maintenance System, Protective Aircraft Shelter Interior Intrusion Detection System, and ALCM sustainment, as well as interfacing with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration for the management of the B61-12 bomb and W80-4 warhead life extension programs.