MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
A pilot with the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, recently completed the intensive Weapons Instructor Course at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Kyle Wagner, a pilot assigned to the 167th Operations Group, is the first wing member to apply for and complete the WIC, which trains students in air, space and cyber weapons superiority. Wagner’s training consisted of six months of time constrained mission planning, flying and analysis.
“It was more intense than what I was expecting,” explained Wagner. “There are too many tasks to complete, briefings to prepare or missions to plan for and not enough time. This is intentional, and the purpose is to make you comfortable operating in a stressful environment.”
The final phase of the course is comprised of group training with students from each of the major weapons systems at the USAFWS. The purpose of this combined training is to integrate with other weapons systems during mission planning and execution to learn their capabilities.
“The main benefit to the base as a whole is having a tactics integration expert with close ties to multiple intelligence and tactics personnel across the Air Force and, in some cases, outside the Air Force,” explained Lt. Col. Randall Wright, 167th Airlift Squadron Commander. “These ties, along with an enlisted and pilot Air National Guard background, will likely provide effective, efficient and focused training and exercises geared toward the latest Air Force tactics, techniques and procedures.”
In order to be selected for the course, pilots must be among the top instructor pilots in their squadrons, be qualified and proficient at performing airdrops, and be recommended to attend by their wing commander. Wagner competed with other qualified C-17 Globemaster III aircraft pilots from across the Air Force for a spot in the class, which had a maximum capacity of six members. He eventually secured his spot in the class with three other pilots.
“Our squadron has never had a C-17 Weapons Officer,” said Wagner. “I wanted to attend the course not only to fulfill that role, but also to be able to teach and train our crews in honing their tactical knowledge and flying skills.”
Wagner stated that he plans to use his experience to help mentor other 167th pilots and loadmasters, and help them prepare for future conflicts. Part of his job as a WO is to help prepare others to take on the same training he did and to eventually replace him as a WO, he stated.
“Maj. Wagner’s drive and professionalism as an aviator and officer made him a top choice for this demanding course,” said Wright. “I am very proud of his willingness and extraordinary performance in completing the course. Maj. Wagner was awarded the C-17 Academic Award and the C-17 Outstanding Graduate Award.”