By Staff Sgt. Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from a wide spectrum of career fields integrated during a multi-day exercise to test special operations and conventional warfare capabilities May 1-5.
Pilots and Weapons System Officers from the 29th Weapons Squadron from Little Rock Air Force Base and the 77th Weapons Squadron from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, worked with Special Tactics combat controllers and special operations Tactical Air Control Party Airmen from 24th Special Operations Wing from Hurlburt Field, Florida. Together, they exercised capabilities learned during the course of their studies and work as a cohesive unit, which enhances the multidomain command and control capability.
The weapons undergraduate pilots, WSOs, and operators spent hours in a secure room planning, briefing and collaborating to create a successful training mission plan at Dyess AFB.
“The 29th Weapons Squadron takes the best C-130 pilots and navigators and trains them to be leaders in Air Mobility Command as well as the instructors of instructors for the C-130 community,” said Maj. Christopher Casler, 29th WPS Director of Staff. “To be selected you have to be an experienced instructor pilot and also have tactical flying experience.”
Approximately six students spend six months trying to obtain the 29th WPS patch and become tactical experts of the C-130 community.
The course is filled with academics on assets available in the military arsenal to include missiles, bombs, fighter tactics and anything else related to combat. This is followed by four flying phases: defensive maneuvering, airdrop and air land, theatre employment and the capstone of the course, integration with the rest of the air components.
“A weapons officer can coordinate the complex missions taking place (in the battle space), and our students are getting a glimpse of the coordination that it takes to get the full mission executed successfully,” Casler said.
The training week at Dyess AFB offered a small step toward the integration phase of weapons school. The most relevant ideal instructors want to convey is opening the students’ eyes on the different resources and weapons platforms available, not just the C-130 or what they are most comfortable with.
“We want to create the best instructors to teach the rest of the C-130 core and to do that they need a perspective that is much bigger to see where we fit in during the bigger battle,” Casler said. “The long term goal is to create leaders in the Air Force from the C-130 community who can understand more than the Mobility Air Force.”
The training mission began with a B-1B Lancer clearing targets at the destined airfield preparing the battle space for a special tactics global access team conducting a high-altitude low-opening military free fall jump into the battle space followed by three C-130Js postured for a hypothetical resupply of ammunition.
Once the operators touched down, they simulated moving to objectives as C-130 were postured to provide resupply and the B-1B Lancer crews positioned themselves to provide close air support to the ground team.
“Our main objective is to integrate the 77th and 29th WPS with special operations for real-world contingency ops,” said a Special Tactics Airman from the 24th SOW.
All three entities contributed their capabilities to enhance understanding of each mission-design series in order to best support combatant commanders.
“The students learn that communication is key, if all three agencies don’t communicate we would have a lot of conflict, everyone could do their job correctly and still not achieve the overall mission,” Casler said.
The goal of this level of training is to create a group of pilots, WSOs and operators who can take theory and strategically plan the potential action – in either a conventional or asymmetrical warfare environment – that will be needed or used to resolve a conflict or challenge.