Bloomington Illinois Navy Student Recognized for Excellence by Air Force
Bloomington Illinois Sailor earns Air Force 316th Training Squadron’s Student of the Month
By Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Jason Sikora
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The 316th Training Squadron at Goodfellow Air Force Base holds a student of the month competition with more than 500 accession students competing for the title.
Although the Navy regularly participates in this competition, November was the first recorded month where they reigned victorious!
Goodfellow’s 316th Training Squadron provides joint-service training for signals and language analysis students. The competition assesses the highest-achieving service members, based on academic performance, extra-curricular activities, and stringent in-person board protocols. November’s top performer was Information Warfare Training Center Monterey Detachment Goodfellow’s Cryptologic Technician Interpretive (CTI) 3rd Class Brian Hilten.
Before joining the world’s greatest Navy in April 2019, Hilten lived in Bloomington, Illinois with his parents and older sister. During high school, he had dreams of serving in the Navy and doing his part as a patriot and defender of our nation. After graduating, he enlisted in the Navy and tested off the charts on both the general and language-learning aptitude tests. He was quickly selected by the CTI community to learn Arabic at the Defense Language Institute/Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California.
Hilten was lucky enough to have in-person Arabic training for six months, before COVID-19 caused the world to lock down and training was moved to a virtual setting. Those six months provided a phenomenal boost and allowed him to establish a significant base in the language. When asked how he was able to grasp the language as easily as he did, he had quite an interesting response.
Hilton responded that nearly all Arabic words are based on a measure system that stems from root words. Essentially, by learning one root word he was able to easily extrapolate meaning for the other measures (variations) of that word – thus increasing his vocabulary exponentially. He ascribed this method to the high-quality calculus education he received in high school. He said, by using similar mathematical logic, it was easier for him to grasp the Arabic language as a whole.
That is not to say Hilten didn’t study. In fact, he attributes his success in the Arabic language to several factors. First, he said really enjoyed the language and wanted to be able to speak at a level as close to native-fluent as he could with his instructors. Second, he set up routines for his afterschool studies that made them automatic and purposeful. Lastly, he said he wanted to dominate whatever challenges came his way – whether in the classroom or on the battlefield, he wanted to be the best.
At the end of his instructional time in California, he achieved level three (general professional proficiency) standards on the classical Arabic reading and listening tests, as well as the same maximum scores in the Levantine and Sudanese dialects. Suffice it to say, he is an anomaly in the rating and is becoming quite a team resource.
While in Monterey, Hilten was chosen to be part of an elite CTI community and go through the naval aircrew pipeline. Between COVID-19 protocols and scheduling backlogs, Hilten remained in Monterey for additional several months. However, he made the most of his time, being hand-selected as the Commanding Officer of IWTC Monterey, Cmdr. Josie Moore’s executive assistant while his awaiting his transfer. This temporary assignment allowed him to learn and appreciate some of the complexities of IWTC Monterey and see how all the pieces fit together.
In September, 2021, Hilten checked onboard Goodfellow Air Force Base. In his two months at the detachment, while participating in an intense language analyst course, he has achieved a cumulative grade point average of 99.5 percent. With three weeks left of instruction, he is on course to have the highest GPA the Arabic Apprentice Cryptologic Language Analyst course has ever recorded. To put this into perspective, the instructors of the course need to test at 90 percent on each block of instruction before they are trusted to teach the material. Some instructors needed more than one attempt to reach that level of acumen. Hilten as a rookie operator is performing above this level. He is learning tools and techniques that are used by language professionals with years of experience, and is showing senior-level capabilities incredibly quickly.
When asked how he is able to perform at this level, Hilten remains humble. He cites diligently studying with purpose as his formula. Each instructional day, he arrives an hour before class begins. This allows him to refresh his mind with the previous material, practice using the tools and techniques he has learned, and pre-read the lessons for the current day’s material. During the weekend, he takes full advantage of study hall hours and writes down any questions he has for the next instructional day.
Outside of academia, he has been assisting the Elite Advanced PT Team, run by fellow aircrewman Cryptologic Technician Interpretive 1st Class Sarah Pascoe, with targeted PT sessions to enhance CTI success through the aircrew pipeline. This includes swimming, distance running, high intensity interval training, and incorporating lessons from the Warrior Toughness program.
Hilten has set himself apart from his peers by assuming the role as student leading petty officer for 32 joint-service Navy and Coast Guard students. He is responsible for daily accountability and communications up and down the chain of command. Additionally, he demonstrated his love for community service and patriotism while leading a formation of Sailors in the San Angelo Veterans’ Day parade and other community volunteer events.
The culmination of his academic success, peer and subordinate leadership, and willingness to work outside of his prescribed scope helped him to achieve the Outstanding Student of the Month for Goodfellow’s 316th Training Squadron. After graduating from Goodfellow, Hilten will embark down the rigorous training path to become a special operator in the elite aircrew community. His dedication and ability will serve well the forward-deployed operations he will become a part of.
IWTC Monterey Detachment Goodfellow is aligned under IWTC Monterey. As part of the Center for Information Warfare Training domain, they provide a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.