Maj. William Fry, 19th Weapons Squadron instructor and director of operations, explains to Senior Airman Brandi Gilstrap about the specifics of a ground-to-ground missile May 14, 2007, Nellis AFB, Nev. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)
Capt. Nathan Rusin, an instructor assigned to the 19th Weapons Squadron, prepares to examine the nose of a air-to-air missile May 14, 2007, Nellis AFB, Nev. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)
Maj. William Fry, 19th Weapons School instructor and director of operations, explains to Senior Airman Brandi Gilstrap about the specs of a ground-to-ground missile May 14, 2007, Nellis AFB, Nev. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)
by Airman 1st Class Ryan Whitney
Nellis Public Affairs
5/16/2007 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- "Humble, approachable, credible."
To most people, these words are nothing more than personality traits, but for graduates of the 19th Weapons Squadron these are the blueprints of a U.S. Air Force Weapons School officer.
The 19th WPS is one of 16 squadrons assigned to the USAFWS at Nellis. Their courses are designed to increase intelligence officers' familiarity of the capabilities and limitations of friendly and enemy forces and hone their skills to a razor sharp edge, said Lt. Col. Aaron Prupas.
"The courses are designed to provide the intelligence officer graduates with advanced instructor training and make them the premier intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance operations and mission support instructor," Colonel Prupas added.
This class is taught through two separate syllabi - the Intelligence Weapons Instructors Course, which accepts eight students per class, and the Intelligence Sensor and Weapons Instructors Course, which accepts six students per class.
Although the two courses cover similar topics and work together on a daily basis, the difference is the amount of time each course spends on each topic, said Capt. Max Pearson, 19th WPS ISWIC instructor.
IWIC primarily focuses on the weapons platforms of the Air Force, the fighters and bombers, while ISWIC concentrates on ISR platforms like unmanned aerial systems.
"[IWIC] students might spend a whole day working with the F-16, while the ISWIC side of the house may only spend an hour. On the other hand IWIC may only spend two hours working with the Predator, but ISWIC will spend a week with that platform," said Capt. Robyn Turner, 19th WPS IWIC student.
Students are usually assigned to a class based on experience.
"This is a graduate-level class, and students should come here expecting nothing less than working 12-hour days, five to six days a week," said Capt. Turner. The course is 108 days long with classes starting in January and July.
"If students planning to come to the USAFWS aren't willing to sacrifice free time and work hard, they will not achieve the honor of graduating from this course," said Capt. Jeanette Rivera-Breznai, ISWIC Instructor.
"This course has one of the steepest learning curves that I have ever experienced. This is without a doubt the most challenging thing I have ever achieved. That being said, this is one of the most exciting and worth-while things I have ever done," said Capt. Nathan Rusin, IWIC instructor.
Students here travel to multiple bases nationwide, to include Robins AFB, Ga., MacDill AFB, Fla., Offutt AFB, Neb., and the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md.
Course instructors realize students learn in many different ways so the course is set up to give students the best chance for success.
"First and foremost, this is an instructor's course, so we get the students up in front of their peers and have them teach. Then they are constructively criticized by their classmates, because when a student knows what they have done wrong in the past, there is a better chance of them not making the same mistake," said Captain Rusin.
The instructors outnumber the students 2 to 1, and just as people learn in different ways, the same can be said for instructors' teaching methods.
"All of the instructors continually stride to use a variety of instructional techniques to ensure our students are learning the material presented to them, rather than just teach from PowerPoint slides" said Capt. Rivera-Breznai.
And it has worked, the squadron has been training intelligence officers for 20 of the USAFWS 58-year history and it has graduated more than 231 students with 10 students scheduled to graduate in June.
Weapons school graduates have been thoroughly involved in planning and execution of every combat operation since Operation's Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
"Only a small number of intelligence officers are accepted into the USAFWS to receive this phenomenal training. Because there are so few of us, we are highly valued assets where ever our careers take us," said Captain Pearson. "This is one of the most academically challenging things that I have done, but the course is well worth the time and effort that is asked of the students."
For more information on this and other USAFWS courses, visit https://wwwmil.nellis.af.mil/USAFWS.