116th Airman shines at home station during Weapons Instructor Course

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexander Frank
  • 142nd Wing/Public Affairs

The 116th Air Control Squadron (ACS) hosted the 8th Weapons Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) at Camp Rilea, Oregon in August. The 116th was selected as a temporary duty (TDY) location for one of the Weapons Instructor Courses (WIC) offered by the 8th Weapons Squadron.

For the 116th, the course offered not only a unique training opportunity, but saw the return of a familiar face. Staff Sgt. Soriah Curtis, a 116th ACS Airman and Weapons Director, returned to her home station while enrolled in the WIC.

“I couldn't be happier,” said Curtis, “being able to do it with these guys, they're my support network. They're my family as much as any Guard unit ever is.”

The course is centered around Command and Control (C2), where Airmen familiarize themselves with radar operations, weapons control and surveillance, and learn how each component affects the greater Control and Reporting Center (CRC). The CRC is a mobile command and communications radar element that works to create an aerial map from a plethora of data driven sources.

Curtis was informed of the serendipitous alignment while supporting the previous WIC course at Nellis AFB.

“I've been down to support [the course] several times before actually applying,” said Curtis, “And I had just submitted an application two days prior for the 22 Bravo class, and the instructor at the time said, ‘yeah, let's make it work’”

“We try to cater to our students,” said Master Sgt. Rebecca MacFadden, a CRC WIC instructor at the 8th Weapons Squadron. “Learning the equipment intimately by going to their units so that not only they’re back home, but the other members get exposure to what we're doing.”

The course itself is no walk in the park. Applicants are required to be between the ranks of E4 and E6 and have previous experience as a Weapons Director. Once accepted, students face a five-and-a-half-month-long course that will test every facet of CRC operations and certify them as experts in battle management operations. After completion, graduates will be responsible for maintaining readiness at their home stations.

For Staff Sgt. Curtis and members of the 116th, the TDY gave an early preview of the expertise she’ll provide the squadron upon graduating.

“I think the biggest thing is just starting to understand the capabilities that the Air Force has as a whole and how I can fit into that picture,” said Curtis.

While much of the course focuses on the technical aspects of radar, and battlefield management; it’s not meant to be the only takeaway. Ensuring that Airmen have the confidence to articulate these ideas is essential.

“When she graduates this course, she's going to be not only a tactical leader, but she's also going to be a leader that is going to be able to bring her crew together and lead them into wartime,” said MacFadden “She's learning how to mission plan, critically think, and take information so she can enable her leaders to make effective decisions.”

While only about a month into the near six-month course, Curtis admits that working with her home squadron during such a difficult course is daunting, but it’s that same pressure that ultimately drives her forward.

“There's a little bit of added pressure of going through this course in front of my unit,” said Curtis, “I don't want to let them down, but at the same time, I also want to represent, and I want to show them the cool things I'm learning. It’s made me try harder”.