COVID-19 has created a new normal. Everyday life activities are now categorized as either “essential” or “non-essential.”
Unfortunately for the adversaries of the United States, the U.S. Air Force Weapons School located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., remains essential, delivering training to the warfighters of the present and future.
Those around Las Vegas might have seen fighter aircraft continuing to fly. Many of these aircraft are being flown by students learning advanced tactics; tactics only taught at the weapons school.
“The weapons school builds the world’s premier tactical leaders and instructors of integrated air, space and cyberspace operations,” said Col. Jack R. Arthaud, USAFWS commandant. “We build technical expertise and tactical excellence through graduate-level knowledge in weapons systems, accompanied by the most realistic advanced combat training possible in peacetime, so that our graduates can increase their squadron’s combat readiness and lead their units on deployment, in combat, or anywhere in the world. The weapons school and its graduates are a fundamental part of our Air Force’s lethality and readiness.”
With the risk of COVID-19 being apparent, many changes had to come into place in order to ensure that students could remain safe while continuing their studies in air superiority.
“Through the tremendous perseverance and creative problem-solving of our commanders, cadre and staff, the weapons school is on track to graduate Class 20A on time this June,” said Arthaud. “We have totally redesigned operations, implementing social-distancing procedures and by creating ‘black’ and ‘gold’ teams separated by shifts, to balance force health protection and mission resilience.”
The hard work of the weapons school itself is primarily conducted by a core group of Airmen who transfer their expertise to the next generation.
“I believe Weapons School cadre form the core, the true soul of our Air Force’s tactical excellence,” said Arthaud. “Their passion and commitment to passing on what they’ve learned is the DNA of our Airpower successes over the last 35 years. When you boil it down, our instructors exist to make the next generation better than we are. It’s awesome to watch, especially during this crisis.”
While these solutions may be decided and put into effect by leadership, the work of the entire base is what allows these processes to succeed.
“It is critical to point out, none of the weapon school’s mission could be accomplished during this pandemic without the phenomenal work done by all of our supporting maintenance groups,” said Arthaud. “This is especially true for the 57th Maintenance Group that continues to produce sorties as well as the whole of Team Nellis — Nevada Test and Training Range, the Adversary Support of the 57th Operations Group, 57th Operations Support Squadron, 99 Air Base Wing, Med Group, and the list goes on and on.”
Essential personnel of Nellis can rest assured knowing that their hard work is going towards a common goal: building the next generation of warfare and ensuring the United States has the capability to fly, fight and win.
For those personnel, Arthaud has a message.
“Thank you for your selfless service,” said Arthaud. “The Air Force is a unique community of exceptional patriots. It is an absolute privilege to be a member of the Weapons School, Team Nellis, and the U.S. Air Force.”