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DoD School Meets Service Nuke Weapons Training Needs

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., July 3, 1997 – Managing nuclear weapons requires specialized education. When the services assign people to a nuclear mission, therefore, chances are they'll also sign them up for DoD-funded courses at the Defense Nuclear Weapons School here.

A field command of the Defense Special Weapons Agency, the school offers courses ranging in subject matter from awareness of weapons of mass destruction to nuclear accident remediation -- and in length from a few hours to several days. Students come to class here, or the class goes to them via mobile training teams, multimedia presentations and distance learning. Enrollees come from all civilian and military ranks in DoD; other federal, state and local agencies; and allied nations.

"As the Defense Department downsizes, the services aren't manned to support as many noncombat or combat-support activities as in the past, so they look to the defense agencies," said Byron Ristvet, academic dean. "We're adding new courses all the time. For example, we're going to teach courses on the medical effects of ionizing radiation and tactical targeting." He said the school also teaches a nuclear weapons crew members course and nuclear weapons effects course, and it manages a strategic targeting course for Strategic Command.

"This is the only place in DoD where you can learn to deal with nuclear weapons accidents," Ristvet added. "This is particularly critical for senior commanders responsible for nuclear weapons activities at multiple locations." Nuclear accidents are very unlikely, but commanders and their staffs must know how to handle them if they occur.

The Flag Officer Nuclear Accident Course (for military flag officers and civilians GS-12 and above) teaches lessons learned from past accidents; federal, state and local agency responsibilities; and key issues specific to a nuclear weapons accident. The course also consolidates procedural guidance and technical information needed to prepare DoD forces to respond to nuclear weapons accidents.

Other principal courses the school offers include:

  • Nuclear Weapons Orientation Course (mobile training available), for E-5s and above and GS-7s and above assigned to positions that require knowledge of the national nuclear weapons program;
  • Nuclear Weapons Technical Inspection Course (mobile training available), for E-7s and above and their civilian counterparts;
  • Senior Officer Nuclear Accident Course (mobile training available), for officers and senior NCOs (E-7 to O-6), civilians GS-12 and above, civilian authorities, and local and state representatives with nuclear weapons responsibilities;
  • Nuclear Emergency Team Operations Course (mobile training available), for military members and civilians filling explosive ordnance disposal, disaster preparedness or other response force positions;
  • Joint Nuclear Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course, for exposive ordnance disposal technicians E-5 and above;
  • Nuclear Hazards Training Course, for medical and allied health specialists and medical response team members training for nuclear weapon or radiation accidents;
  • Joint DoD/Department of Energy Safety and Security Executive Course, for newly assigned senior military or civilian personnel responsible for policy or operational aspects of the U.S. nuclear weapons program;
  • Counterproliferation Awareness Course (mobile training available), for E-7s and above and GS-7s and above with responsibilities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and U.S. responses; and
  • Environmental Management Aspects of Nuclear Accident Remediation, for military and civilian personnel in emergency response, disaster preparedness, environmental restoration/waste management or response force support positions.

All courses are available one or more times throughout the year at no cost to DoD employees and service members.

For general information and customer support, contact the school registrar's office at (505) 846-5666 or DSN 246-5666; e-mail dnws@fc.dswa.mil, or visit the school's site on the World Wide Web at http://www.dswa.mil/dswainfo/dnws/index.html.

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