USAFSIA reaches graduate milestone

United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy Basic Special Investigators Course Class 16-02 joins USAFSIA Commander Col. Shan B. Nuckols, left, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Rob Redmon, right, commemorating the graduation of the academy's 15,000th Special Agent in this class March 24. (USAFSIA photo)

United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy Basic Special Investigators Course Class 16-02 joins USAFSIA Commander Col. Shan B. Nuckols, left, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Rob Redmon, right, commemorating the graduation of the academy's 15,000th Special Agent in this class March 24. (USAFSIA photo)

The first class of newly minted Special Agent graduates from the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations Academy at the Washington, D.C. National Guard Armory pose for a class photo March 10, 1949. (USAFSIA photo)

The first class of newly-minted Special Agent graduates from the United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy at the Washington D.C., National Guard Armory pose for a class photo March 10, 1949. (USAFSIA photo)

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations Academy's official entrance to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., on Oct. 3, 2002, with Col. Dennis Keith taking command. (USAFSIA photo)

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy's official entrance to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., Oct. 3, 2002, with Col. Dennis Keith taking command. (USAFSIA photo)

QUANTICO, Va. -- March 10, 1949, ushered in a new era in federal law enforcement with the graduation of the first class of Special Agents from the fledgling United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy at the Washington, D.C. National Guard Armory.

Fast-forward to March 24, 2016, and the USAFSIA graduating class at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga. 

The latter class cemented its place in the storied legacy of USAFSIA by graduating the 15,000th credentialed Special Agent. Besides its historical link to the inaugural graduating class, the milestone coincides with the challenges met by the Air Force through the years.

"It shows how the schoolhouse has endured, without interruption, to continue to produce OSI Special Agents regardless of the changing dynamics or operations tempo of the times," said Col. Shan B. Nuckols, USAFSIA commander. "This event is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the tremendous history of OSI and its academy, as we evolve to meet the Air Force's uncertain future."

The minting of that many Special Agents speaks volumes about the quality of the academy's curriculum and instruction.

"The milestone demonstrates that over 67 years USAFSIA has consistently maintained the academic rigor to produce the unique criminal investigations capability that no one else can for our Air Force," Nuckols said.

The academy commander emphasized all OSI personnel have a duty to recruit their replacements.

"We're a successful organization because we recognize it's important to identify, recruit, vet and train quality Airmen to be the next generation of OSI Special Agents," he said.

New OSI Special Agent recruits begin training at FLETC with an 11-week course called the Criminal Investigator Training Program, attended by trainees from nearly all federal investigative agencies. The CITP provides basic investigative training in law, interviewing, informants, defensive tactics, emergency driving, evidence processing, firearms, search and seizure, arrest techniques, report writing, testifying and surveillance.

CITP is followed by eight weeks of OSI-specific coursework training. The instruction includes: OSI organization and mission, ethics, investigative responsibility and jurisdiction, interrogations, military law, crimes against property and persons (physical and sexual), liaison, the role of investigative experts, computer crimes, forensics, fraud investigations, environmental crime, counterintelligence collections and investigations and force-protection programs.

Upon graduation and arrival at their first field assignment OSI Special Agents must complete the Basic Extension Program within their first 15 months. BEP is an on-line program, administered by USAFSIA's Advanced Training Division. It's comprised of four blocks: Tactical Source Operations Development, Interview and Interrogation Techniques, Criminal Investigations Skills and Economic Crimes. BEP is 24 weeks long.

When an enlisted Airman completes all the required training they earn 54 college credits toward a Community College of the Air Force Criminal Justice Degree, which highlights the productive accreditation relationship.

"AFSIA is very proud of this affiliation because it shows the academy is highly thought of by senior leadership within CCAF," said Mr. David Bynum, AFSIA Chief, Training Management Division and appointed voting member on the CCAF Policy Board. "And it validates what the academy does each day, trains Special Agents to operate throughout the full spectrum of conflict."

USAFSIA is distinctive among the other 96 partner organizations at FLETC because it's one of only 14 agencies with an academy accredited by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation Board, on which Nuckols sits as a board member.

From its inception in 1948, OSI has operated its own training facility, making it the oldest career field training school in the Air Force. 

When located in the National Capital Region, the schoolhouse moved from Bolling Air Force Base to Andrews AFB in 1994/95. On Sept. 28, 2000, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the academy's relocation from Andrews to FLETC. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked OSI's official entrance to FLETC on Oct. 3, 2002 with Col. Dennis Keith taking command. The first class of OSI Special Agent recruits, 27 men and 17 women, began training there Oct. 14, 2002, signaling a new chapter in the command's history.

Based on its reputation and students, USAFSIA is a well-respected member of the FLETC community.

"We set a high standard for our personnel and for the investigations and operations OSI conducts," Nuckols said. "Our people are actively recruited to bring their expertise, professionalism and work ethic to various FLETC working groups."

Teamwork and pride have been staples of the USAFSIA faculty.

"As a team, we are all as proud of (graduate) 15,000 as we are of (graduate) 15,001," Nuckols said. "Our instructors are all volunteers and take enormous pride investing in the future of our command. They choose to give back to an organization that has given them so much.

"As our leadership tells us, performance matters at OSI. For our students, performance starts at USAFSIA."