With the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course right around the corner, many Marines may wonder why Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 is so important. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why should we care?
The MAWTS-1 Mission Statement says, “The mission of MAWTS-1 is to provide standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications that support Marine Aviation training and readiness. MAWTS-1 also provides assistance in the development and employment of aviation weapons and tactics.”
“MAWTS-1 is the principle institution for Marine Aviation training and tactical development. This command, though officially a Squadron, is more like a composite group in that each aviation asset is represented here,” added Kevin Reece, MAWTS-1 historian. “Those officers and Marines are all graduates of the WTI course. There are members of the Command and Control, Aviation Ground Support, and Ground Combat communities also on staff. Through the semi-annual WTI course and the multiple ‘fleet support’ visits the staff of MAWTS-1 provides training, instruction, flight evaluation, and subject matter expertise to the Fleet Marine Forces.”
According to the official MAWTS-1 Historical Narrative, the origin of MAWTS-1 may be traced to the aftermath of World War II when Marine pilots were first assigned to Navy Composite Squadrons.
These squadrons, operating from shore bases and carriers, were assigned the special weapons delivery mission.
Over the course of a decade, from 1952 to the 1960’s, with the introduction of improved weapons and aircraft, the Marines were reassigned to Marine Special Weapons Delivery Units whose mission was quickly handed over to the attack squadrons. Special Weapons Training Units were then formed to provide necessary training to the attack squadrons, and were finally redesignated as Marine Air Weapons Training Units.
In 1975, a study group was formed at Headquarters Marine Corps to determine requirements for the enhancement and standardization of aviation training. A series of recommendations were made to the head of Marine Aviation and to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in early 1976. Project 19 recommended establishment of the Weapons and Tactics Training Program for all of Marine Aviation.
The cornerstone of the WTTP was the development of a graduate level Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course and the placement of WTI graduates in training billets in every tactical unit in Marine Corps.