Years to Recover

The Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., has retooled its program in the wake of budget sequestration, but cancellation of Class 13B last year due to the funding cuts will have ripple effects across the force for the next seven years or so, said Col. Adrian Spain, the school’s commandant. That “put a hole in the force,” he told Air Force Magazine in a mid-August interview. “We train [graduates] at the highest level, the best young instructors, then we put a patch on them and send them back to make the folks around them better,” explained Spain. Follow-on assignments are now short of “patch wearers,” he noted. At the Weapons School, the Air Force updates the latest tactics in classes every six months, helping to “refresh the knowledge” in a given platform or skill set, said Spain. “When you don’t get that, you have units that don’t have a tier-one weapons officer,” he said, meaning an officer in place at the squadron level who trains other instructors. That is followed by a tier-two assignment at a group or wing level, then a tier-three position at a major command, an air and space operations center, or another staff billet. Now, at each level, a WS graduate “has to stay longer and fill a gap,” said Spain.