NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — In June 2015, commander of the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One, Marine equivalent to the Air Force Weapons School, Col. James Adams visited Nellis AFB.
During this routine visit, the commandant was given a tour of the Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School and was impressed with what he witnessed.
With the Marine Corps delving into the development of its officer and enlisted maintenance training, MAWTS-1 and the Advanced Maintenance and Munition Operations have spent the past year collaborating curriculum, methodology and for the first time ever, students.
On May 20, 2016, Master Sgt. Thomas Moore, Marine Aviation and Logistics Squadron 11 aircraft maintenance chief, will graduate the AMMOS course at Nellis AFB, becoming not only the first Marine to complete the course, but the first sister-service member ever.
“The USAF Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School has been the top tier of advanced training for maintenance leaders since 2003,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Lowe, commandant of the USAF AMMOS. “We conduct courses for aircraft and munitions maintenance officers, the Combat Support Course, and senior non-commissioned officers, the Advanced Maintenance Superintendent Course.”
The AMSC takes senior NCOs and pushes them past what they would normally have to handle while at home station by forcing them to also manage maintenance in a combat environment.
“The AMSC is a course that is designed to flex a maintenance leader through home station and deployed logistics,” said Capt. David Liberti, AMMOS academics operations officer. “Focusing on aircraft, personnel, equipment and fleet health the AMSC takes a group of senior NCOs exclusively and puts them through a course that is built around our combat support master processes.”
Being the first Marine to be put through this course, Moore is not only learning on his sister-services behalf, but also bringing a unique perspective to the Airmen in the course.
“Master Sgt. Moore is the first sister-service student in the 13-year history of AMMOS,” said Lowe. “Despite the challenges of learning Air Force maintenance organization, procedures and terminology, he is excelling in our challenging curriculum. Master Sgt. Moore is a great asset to his fellow students, and has taught us a lot about Marine Corps aviation, and how they organize, train and fight.”
The collaboration between Airmen and Marines evolved from the sharing of strategies and ideas on aircraft maintenance to diving in head first.
“The whole partnership came about because the Marines are looking at creating an advanced maintenance course that is very similar to what AMMOS does,” said Liberti. “The Marines had come out for a site survey, and liking what they saw, they approached us about having an actual student to come through. Originally, it was to observe and audit the class, and in more discussions with them we realized jumping in with both feet would be the best way to experience it and bring something back to the Corps.”
Throughout the duration of the AMSC, Moore has sharpened his skills by learning the concrete processes taught at AMMOS.
“The Marines don’t have a formal course yet for senior maintainers on aircraft,” said Moore. “This course quantifies some of the skills that are out there that we don’t really have written down or taught. The techniques that are taught here are more general knowledge and aren’t quantified. Having these processes quantified and taught at this level is beneficial.”
These processes serve to deliver the maintainers with the ability of keeping aircraft mission ready during combat times as well as when on home station.
“We charge the senior NCOs with expanding combat capability,” said Liberti. “That’s what we as maintainers ultimately provide is combat capability through mission ready aircraft for our operators.”
With the skills learned at the AMSC, Moore will serve a vital role in reengineering the way the Marine Corps handles aircraft maintenance.
“The Marine Corps is looking to have a senior NCO maintenance course, and that’s the reason I came here,” said Moore. “Since the Air Force already has something in place the Marines don’t want to copy the class, because we operate differently, but get ideas. With these ideas as a baseline we can reformulate it for the Marines. The course has given me more ideas about how to analyze maintenance readiness and capabilities, and being able to articulate that with operational requirements.”
While helping the Marines to revitalize their aircraft issue may be a challenge for the Marine Master Sgt., the leadership at AMMOS is confident his capabilities and the skill set that has been instilled.
“We will charge Master Sgt. Moore with the same responsibilities as we have with the 561 AMMOS graduates that preceded him; to be the best producer in his primary leadership role, a mentor to those around him and an advisor to his commanders in the art and science of combat support,” said Lowe. “I know he will be a cornerstone for Marine Corps aviation as they build their own advanced maintenance leadership training courses.”
The experience is one that Moore believes has taught him much, not only in his field of maintenance but also with his exposure to Air Force culture.
“It’s a unique experience, being the first sister-service to go through this course. Having limited exposure to Air Force doctrine in the past it’s been a learning experience. There are definitely things we can use vice-versa,” said Moore.