77th WPS celebrates two decades of excellence
The 77th Weapons School celebrated their 20th anniversary June 14 as “patch-wearers” from across the Air Force converged on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to reflect on the accomplishments and advancements the B-1 community has achieved on their watch. (Courtesy photo)
by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
6/15/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 77th Weapons School celebrated their 20th anniversary June 14 as "patch-wearers" from across the Air Force converged on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to reflect on the accomplishments and advancements the B-1 community has achieved on their watch.
Since the school's inception in 1992, the 77th WPS has completed 40 classes and graduated 201 B-1 weapons officers. With no more than eight weapons officers produced each year, these patch-wearers make up one of the most exclusive fraternities across the armed forces.
The schoolhouse breeds the instructors of the instructors; they are experts in tactics, techniques and procedures across all B-1 mission sets.
"This school houses the absolute best operators the B-1 community has to offer the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Haynes, 77th WPS commander. "There is no better training on B-1 tactics than the 77th Weapons School. This is arguably one of the toughest courses the Air Force has to offer.
"Our mission is to lead the B-1 community in building and teaching tactics that enable victory in our nation's wars," the commander added.
The Air Force expects weapons school graduates to be tactical experts for their commanders and top instructors at their units. Throughout the last 20 years, 77th WPS graduates have led the way in the exponential growth the B-1 has seen in its capabilities, versatility and its role in combat operations.
In 1992, the first graduating class operated B-1s that had minimal versatility and were only capable of employing two weapons; the Mark-82 and CBU-87. Today, 77th WPS graduates have the latest technology the U.S. military has to offer. From a Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod to laser guided weaponry, the B-1 now boasts one of the Air Force's most diverse arsenals.
"The capabilities they had then to what we have now is night and day," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Boillot, 77th WPS director of operations and 2004 weapons school graduate. "If you take a 20-year timespan from any aircraft, I would place the B-1 at the top of the list. The speed of its evolution from dropping two weapons, to the arsenal we have now is unbelievable."
Boillot believes the advancement of the airframe goes hand-in-hand with the growth and development of the aircraft's weapons officers.
"The evolution of the B-1 has been driven by our weapons officer's credibility with the general officers running the wars," Boillot said. "Demonstrating to them if you give us X, we will exponentially do better for you."
Boillot added that staying on the forefront of technology both with the weaponry of the airframe and the training of our weapons officers leaves only one choice for combatant commanders - a B-1 Bomber.
Throughout the past two decades the B-1 has been called upon to engage in multiple contingencies around the globe; graduates from the 77th WPS, are the ones who lead the way.
"You see our graduates leading the community into war every time," Haynes said. "Desert Fox, Allied Force, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Odyssey Dawn ... the initial sorties into each combat zone had a graduate in the jet."
As the 77th WPS celebrates 20 years of producing the community's best and peer into the future, they recognize the high standards the U.S. Air Force Weapons School demands, are more important than ever.
"What we do at the 77th WPS and the USAFWS is produce airmen warriors who minimize risk in a downsizing military," Haynes said. "We bridge the gap with humble, approachable and credible weapons officers who promulgate our Air Force and the joint force to build, teach and lead.
"While the 77th WPS reflects on 20 amazing years and gazes forward into a bright future, a new crop of graduates will continue that tradition of taking the mighty B-1 to even higher levels of performance in defense of this great nation," he added.