KC-135 weapons officers integral to future Air Force success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Bernal Del Agua
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Two pilots from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing graduated from the U.S. Air Force's Weapons School, June 27.

Capts. Emma House, 22nd ARW assistant chief of tactics, and Thomas Horan, 349th Air Refueling Squadron A Flight commander, are the newest Weapons School graduates from McConnell. They will incorporate what they learned in the course and apply it to prepare the tanker community for future synergy with other weapon systems as well as other branches of the military.

"Weapons officers are some of the best leaders we have in the Air Force," said Col. Albert Miller, 22nd ARW commander. "They live by their code of being 'humble, approachable and credible.' They have proven themselves in an extremely challenging program, and gained invaluable knowledge on how to employ and integrate their weapon system into a joint or combined fight."

McConnell boasts the Air Force's largest KC-135 Stratotanker tactics program, and the new skills the graduates acquired in the class have been immediately applied.

"I was busy right away and felt like I was needed," said House. "I have been fielding questions about where the wing's direction was going for the next few months while I've also been planning large ship formations and other wing exercises."

The refueling capability of the KC-135 gives it a constant presence in conflicts around the globe.

"We are involved in everything, and we will continue to be involved in everything," said House. "We have to be vigilant, and we have to be on the edge when it comes to the skills we need to know. Things are changing, and McConnell will be at the forefront of all of it."

The Weapons School's mission is to train tactical experts and leaders of Airmen skilled in the art of integrated battle-space dominance across the land, air, space and cyber domains.

"We rely on our KC-135 weapons officers to ensure the system and our aircrews are ready to employ tankers in the most effective manner across a spectrum of contingencies," said Miller. "We expect a lot from our weapons officers, and I know these two, along with the three other weapons officers here, will deliver."

House explained that weapons officers look at how they can improve and keep a better offensive front as a KC-135 community.

"Tactics are involved in everything we do," said House. "Our job is to figure out how to better employ the tankers and prepare them for the next war. We think about the skills we are going to need to know in the future and we put that to practice in our flights and in our ground training."

The last part of Weapons School is designed to teach the students how to polish the skills they learned.

"We learned how to ask the right questions when planning a mission," said House. "This was one of the most valuable lessons I learned from the course. It taught me how to interact with everyone else, because we know the tanker fairly well, but we didn't know how to ask about the big picture."

House said the Weapons School was one of the hardest things she has done as an instructor pilot.

"By the time you come out of the school, you are incredibly capable," said House. "They taught me how to use critical thinking to strategize and plan wars from the tanker perspective. Weapons School taught me the ability to cross talk with all the major weapon systems to know what I'm going to need for the next fight."