ST. PAUL, Minn. – In December, U.S. Air Force Maj. Charlie Moore graduated from the C-130 Weapons Instructor course. He is the fifth member of the 133rd Airlift Wing to earn the “Weapons Officer” title.
The U.S. Air Force Weapons School trains tactical experts and leaders to control and exploit air, space, and cyber on behalf of the joint force. It is the world’s most advanced training in weapons and tactics employment. The five and-a-half month long course produces approximately 150 Weapons officers and enlisted specialists - tactical system experts, weapons instructors, and leaders of Airmen - every six months.
"It was the toughest school I've ever been to in my life, hands down," said Moore. "The hours are very grueling. After a 12-hour day, I would still be spending four to five hours back in my room either preparing for my briefing the next morning, studying up on the material I needed to be prepared for upcoming tests, or starting plans for the next mission (or two) down the road hoping to get ahead, which would never work," said Moore.
The primary goal of the Weapons Course is to make graduates war planners. Through scenario-based training, students learn how to employ high-level tactics and integrate with the joint force, which prepares them to train warfighters for the next potential conflict that the U.S. Air Force may face.
"Humble, credible, approachable," said Moore. "Those are the three core values of a Weapons Course graduate. I didn't really realize how much those elements were going to hit home with me until I graduated from the course."
Graduates must master and exemplify these core characteristics. They will be the subject matter experts during high-level war situations, should they arise. It's a high-demand course, and the bar for success is incredibly high. Students are meant to fail repeatedly to keep them humble. Learning from one’s flaws is critical to developing warfighters.
The cross-platform course is one big partnership opportunity. Students, both enlisted and officer, attend from weapon systems across the entire service: intelligence, Air Battle Managers, ISR systems, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules J and H, tankers, B-52, B-2, B-1, and 4th & 5th generation fighter pilots. During the course, they train, operate, and fly alongside one another. All participants come together at the end for large-scale missions at Nellis Air Force Base. Peer adversary-driven scenarios are performed during this vulnerability period. Several complex integrated sorties are conducted where many different airframes launch to accomplish objectives together.
"To go and acquire the knowledge, bring it back here and be able to pass it to our crews makes us that much stronger for when we train for this next gen fight. The next fight is hopefully not going to happen, but if it does happen, it's our job to be ready for it."