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May 24, 2013

First of its kind: Weapons school mission planning course graduates first enlisted Airmen

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The first-ever course taught at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School for enlisted intelligence professionals, the Advanced Enlisted Mission Planning Course, graduated six enlisted students for class 13-1 here May 17.

When these Airmen return to their home units, they will work closely with their intelligence weapons officers and chiefs of training to help their units not only retain readiness, but work to improve standing training programs as well.

“They all worked extremely hard,” said Capt. James Blick, 19th Weapons Squadron Mission Planning Course flight commander, and AEMPC chief. “They were thrown into an incredibly challenging situation. Even when they were sitting there tired and groggy, they were thinking about going back home and teaching others and making them better.”

AEMPC is a five-week class that teaches advanced mission planning concepts for supporting major combat operations. The course consists of more than 120 hours of academic instruction taught by multiple Weapons School officer and NCO instructors and numerous practical exercises. The AEMPC culminates with students participating in two weeks of Weapons School Integration Phase missions. The course is designed for 5-level and 7-level NCOs who are expected to work with their intelligence weapons officer to lead intelligence Airmen both at home and in combat.

“When the Air Force goes to war, we don’t go to war as an F-16 Fighting Falcon unit or as an F-22 Raptor unit we bring our full force to bear,” Blick said. We bring Raptors, bombers, non-kinetic effects, space, cyber, all that into one mission planning cell to accomplish our missions.”

The Mission Integration Phase of Weapons School is one of the capstone phases for the school, Blick said. It is a 5 1/2 month course, and the fifth month is mission integration. The weapons students have had four months of preparation. The enlisted students have had three weeks. They get three weeks of academics and it is a very intense academic schedule. Then they are thrown into the fray. It is pretty incredible that they can swim in the deep end when they are thrown in.

“Mission integration is where we plan missions to solve a tactical problem,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Brown, intelligence analyst at the 547th Intelligence Squadron. “We have to go strike these simulated targets up on the range, all the while navigating through a missile defense system that’s up there and fighting against the 64th Aggressors. You get A-10 [Thunderbolt IIs], F-15 [Eagles], F-16s, and B-1B [Lancers], all these guys coming together and we have to strike this target and we have to get through and jump [these hurdles] to get there. That’s what integration is.”

“One of the big advantages our weapons officer students have over the enlisted guys is more time and they get much more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance academics,” Blick said. “We’ve gotten feedback from the other squadrons and it has been positive. It’s not a bunch of officers and an enlisted guy, it is a team and it’s a team of different skill sets. That skill set so far has been on par with what the weapons school needs for its standards to do that training.”

“We get the best of the best teaching us academics,” Brown said. “It is a lot of information and a very short amount of time to absorb it all. From day one we had academics from seven to five and then they came in at the end of the day and [said] ‘alright we need you to give a thirty minute briefing tomorrow morning first thing on this platform now.’ So I get the remainder of the night to put together this thirty minute briefing on something I’m not that familiar with.”

“In the end you take a lot away from it, it’s worth it,” Brown said. “You are not going to get this knowledge anywhere else.”

 




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