Advanced Instructor Course graduates enhance Shaw mission
By Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 31, 2019
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE S.C. --
Five enlisted Team Shaw Airmen recently returned from the Advanced Instructor Course at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Once reserved for only officers, opportunities now exist for enlisted Airmen within six career fields to compete for these courses, said Tech. Sgt. Megan, 25th Operations Support Squadron operations flight chief and sensor operator instructor. The Weapons School, using the motto “humble, approachable, credible” is designed to create a more whole Airman.
“The weapons school has been around for 68 years for officers, while most of the other courses just stood up in 2019,” said Megan. “This is a huge change for the enlisted population and allows us to get the integration, training and expertise that were never available to us before. Being able to come back and actually apply that in our field, problem solve and teach our squadrons is huge.”
Weapons school graduates become instructors of instructors as those accepted are considered elite in their field, said Megan. Students are challenged to improve in all aspects during the six months at this elite school, including 23 full-mission profiles and 752 total hours on ranges. The school teaches time management and problem solving skills, as well as how to integrate with joint and coalition partners to achieve operational goals.
“Working side by side with weapons officers as we progress through our course gives all AIC graduates the experience and perspectives we need to effectively advise and support mission requirements once we return to the field,” said Megan.
Staff Sgt. Jonathon, 25th Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge and intelligence instructor, said every course is very distinctive and teaches the instructors personal and career skills needed in their field.
“As the lead intel instructor, I develop and refine our baseline syllabus based on my training at the school,” said Jonathon. “I make sure my five squadrons are training to correct criteria and are supporting the pilots and sensor operators at the high standard our nation deserves.”
Staff Sgt. Travis Carper, 51st Intelligence Squadron noncommissioned weapons officer and recent graduate from the weapons school said the school was challenging, but the warfighter skills he learned will allow him to make an invaluable contribution to his squadron.
“School was very demanding and constantly a challenge, “said Carper. “My typical day would last, on average, 12-16 hours and sometimes during the mission phase it could be up to 20 hours. I hope to guide and lead Airmen based off my experiences from weapons school and help to attempt to solve as many problems as possible while I’m here at Shaw.”
According to an article in Air Force Times, former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh called graduates of the program doctorate level warfighters; a stance that Col. Travis Norton, 25th Attack Group commander agreed with.
“I have observed our Enlisted Weapons School graduates from multiple Air Force Careers in both combat and training environment and they represent the professionalism and expertise all our Airmen should strive for,” said Norton. “They are swinging way above their pay level.”
Norton added, graduates are humble, impactful game changers.
While they remain a relatively new force, these Enlisted Graduates of Weapons School are highly sought after, said Norton.
“I have a big issue with our enlisted weapons school program,” said Norton. “I don’t have enough of them in the field. Enlisted graduates are changing the face of our operational enlisted force.”
To be considered for acceptance, students must be fully-qualified instructors and submit a nomination package consisting of an applicant data sheet and a one-page nomination letter from the nominee's wing commander or equivalent. Students are chosen by a central selection board.
For the most up-to-date information on applying to the school, visit the weapons and tactics website at https://cs.eis.af.mil/weptac/Wpnschool/default.aspx.