New weapons instructor course trains experts to ready troops

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nicolle Mathison
  • 57th Wing Public Affairs

The newest Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) called Control Reporting Center (CRC) WIC was activated at the United States Air Force Weapons School (USAFWS) at Nellis Air Force Base, Jan. 8, 2021.

The course is the next evolution of the oldest enlisted Advanced Instructor Course (AIC) and now the second enlisted WIC in the Weapons School. It is spearheaded by the 8th Weapons Squadron, which is responsible for command and control (C2) and electromagnetic warfare.

The major difference from the AIC focus is that the WIC completes the transition from a technical weapons controller focus to a “total system” focus. WIC graduates are responsible, not only for their core skill of weapons control but also for the max performance of the CRC itself, which includes all weapons control, surveillance, communications and data link operations that it hosts.

The CRC is integrated into the larger Tactical Air Control System (TACS) both laterally with other C2 agencies and vertically with operational level C2 agencies such as the Air Operations Center, which is a first.

To provide the highest quality of instruction, the USAFWS selects its best and brightest to return and teach. The current instructors, who were chosen to teach the first CRC WIC course at the Weapons School, include Master Sgt. Gustavo Bautista, Master Sgt. Rebecca Macfadden, Tech. Sgt. Eric Dice and Tech. Sgt. Kayla Sisson.

“What I love about my job is getting to work with highly trained individuals who are very skilled and constant professionals,” said 8th Weapons Squadron Superintendent Bautista. “I get the unique privilege of working around high-speed performers all day long. It’s definitely a leadership challenge I look forward to every day.”

In order to qualify to attend the course, members must be between the ranks of E4 to E6 with no more than 12 years of Total Active Federal Military Service Time and extensive experience as a Weapons Director.

Throughout WIC, students are exposed to a five-phase learning system, which can at any point run concurrently. It is designed to develop tactical enlisted leaders responsible for battle management operations and train them to respond to rapidly evolving environments.

“We teach students to become technical experts in the entire weapon system that they’re responsible for,” said Commander of the 8th Weapons Squadron Lt. Col. James Combs. “The end goal is for our students to take that weapon system and integrate it into the larger force and mission sets.”

Due to the rapidly changing mission sets and global responses, the USAFWS hosts the CRC, which provides WIC students with the most current and realistic training possible through squadrons of hand-selected cadre armed with the most recently developed tactics, techniques and procedures taught, refined and executed on the most advanced live training ranges and synthetic training environments the joint forces have to offer.

The CRC WIC is the natural evolution of training that took place at the 8th Weapons Squadron and at the Weapons School in order to progress command and control battle management operations.

“Our students will begin integrating initially with the fighter squadrons as they go about learning and perfecting the weapons control portion of our syllabus, but then very rapidly, they will move into more advanced team control and battle management missions where they’re now integrating with the fighters, the bombers, our intelligence squadron space, cyber – you name it,” said Combs. “By the end of the course, our students will have integrated with all 21 squadrons of the Weapons School.”

Before students can graduate, they must complete their capstone where they employ all of the techniques and lessons learned throughout the five-and-a-half month course. Upon graduation, graduates are responsible for ensuring unit readiness at their home stations.

“Students are given the tactical foundation in the classroom. Then, we refine their education by putting them up against red adversaries or aggressors,” said Bautista. “The experience of executing their lessons in real time is a critical step to their development.”

From a joint perspective, the 8th Weapons Squadron integrates students early and often to provide an all-encompassing course for tactical leaders.

“WIC graduates are our insurance policy for the future of warfighting,” said Combs. “We provide the training and foundation, and they go on to ensure that their respective units are prepared for any future fight.”