SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
Three Schriever Airmen earned their patch at a recent U.S. Air Force Weapons School graduation Dec. 16.
Innovating furthers the Air Force’s ability to protect and serve. Maj. Anthony Raphael, 7th Space Operations Squadron flight commander weapons and tactics flight; Capt. Benjamin Brinich, 1st Space Operations Squadron flight commander weapons and tactics flight; joined Capt. Jason Mills, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, chief Global Positioning System weapons and tactics, to represent the base during Weapons School.
They were three out of only seven space Airmen to graduate out of approximately 100 weapons officers in the course’s six month period.
“It was extremely challenging, rigorous and rewarding, and I learned a lot about the various space capabilities we bring to the fight,” Raphael said. “Getting to mission plan how these capabilities can be used was a great experience.”
According to Nellis Air Force Base’s website, Weapons School “trains tactical experts and leaders to control and exploit air, space and cyber (space) on behalf of the joint force.”
The school offers a wide array of Weapons Instructor Courses, or WICs, each going through multiple phases honing a variety of operational skillsets. The Airmen’s WICs specialized in space, covering every major on-orbit system. They embarked on multiple trips throughout the country, participating in training missions and planning at an in-depth level.
According to Mills, the course was set at a “marathon sprint.”
“I can guarantee the course will challenge you in ways that no other military opportunity will, especially for a space operator, but that you will leave empowered to do things you never thought a space operator could do or would be allowed to do,” he said.
For example, he was selected as a mission planning cell chief for a mission during the Weapons School’s cumulative integration course, where students come together and plan as teams.
Each team receives intel and are allotted a short planning phase before execution. After air crews are briefed on the plan, aircraft take off in response.
“Normally, the space student is one of the planners and a pilot is the MPC Chief, so it was very non-standard to have one of us ‘non-kinetic’ guys ‘herding the cats’ as we say here, and while challenging, it was very worthwhile,” Mills said. “As the aircraft took off, I was struck by the craziness that they let a space guy lead the planning for a mission with all those billion dollar aircraft actually flying. Frankly put, it was awesome.”
The Airmen established strong bonds with their fellow classmates before graduating.
“We would do ‘family dinners’ and outings when we could to take a break from school,” Raphael said. “All families have issues at times but I realized we truly bonded. After those issues we could still come together to solve problems. I think that is the true measure of bonding.”
While few in number, the Airmen were honored to have the opportunity to represent the base.
“I took great pride in representing Schriever,” Raphael said. “The capabilities we have are not always well understood by the non-space community and explaining what we do to others was one of the highlights.”
Mills concurred, adding he recommends more Airmen take part in the experience.
“It (Weapons School) gives you thick skin and teaches you what it’s like to really be challenged,” he said.
“To have someone look at you and say ‘I know you can do this, but I’m not going to make it easier, so rise to the occasion, double down and figure it out.’”
Anyone interested in starting the vetting process for the program should consult with their squadron’s weapons and tactics officers and leadership.
More information about Weapons School can be found here.