255th Air Control Squadron receives their first “Patch” in 28 years

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dawson Carter and Airman 1st Class Shardae McAfee
  • 172nd Airlift Wing

The U.S. Air Force Weapons School teaches graduate-level Weapons Instructor Courses (WIC) and associated Advanced Instructor Courses (AIC) to Weapons Officers, enlisted advanced instructors and leaders of Airmen. During the six-month advanced training course, expert-level instructors refine their instructional abilities and return to their squadron to lead other instructors on more advanced capabilities of our military. Upon successful completion of the course, graduates receive a special shoulder patch that signifies a Weapons School graduate as a “patch wearer.”

“In the course, we learn how to best integrate our weapon system within a joint environment in order to leverage all available friendly capabilities to mitigate our adversaries strengths while also exploiting their weaknesses,” said Landry.

The candidate selection process is a highly competitive process that includes being an experienced instructor who has contributed to their base's weapon system or their specific category of aerospace vehicle. Once selected, selectees are required to complete requisite training and expected to complete focused spin-up training with a patch before the course begins.

“Being selected is only the start of the process,” said Lt. Col. Zoran Whelan, 255th ACS Chief of Standardization and Evaluations, “Out of roughly six to eight slots varying year-to-year, on average only two-thirds to half actually pass the course.”

Out of the five to six available bi-yearly slots for the ABM WIC, only one slot is available yearly for Guard and Reserve ABM candidates. This is a highly sought after and very difficult spot to be selected for. The one who is selected receives vast knowledge and improves their instructor capabilities.

“In the course, we must meticulously plan and present expert-level instructional briefs, execute a mission in accordance with the brief, then capture lessons learned through a rigorous debriefing process,” said Landry. “In some cases, we are executing new tactics, techniques, or procedures (TTPs), that we may not have much experience with, but throughout the course, we become the experts of those new TTPs.”

“This is an amazing achievement, and the Airmen at the 255th are proud of Maj. Landry for his hard work and commitment to the job,” said Whelan. “Besides the knowledge he’s gained, this accomplishment has opened the door to networking opportunities and discussions that we did not have access to in order to make sure our squadron’s voice is heard.”

The Weapons School not only gives Airmen amazing skills and experience to pass down and teach others at their base but also projects a future cycle of more graduates from the school. It also ensures the betterment of the base for any challenges they may face.

“The biggest takeaway for me is that you really do become a better instructor and tactician for your squadron,” said Landry. “You learn to prioritize your instruction to focus your time and energy on the areas that will facilitate mission success or mission failure.”

“We hope to facilitate other Airmen to the school and build a legacy of having Airmen at the squadron as future graduates,” said Whelan.