HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – The 505th Command and Control Wing graduated the fifth class of Multi-Domain Warfare Officers, also known by their Air Force specialty code designator “Thirteen Oscar,” during a livestreamed ceremony at Hurlburt Field Nov. 19.
For the 18 students, the graduation marks the culmination of a 20-week journey covering 840 hours of intensive joint academics and 310 hours of complex training exercises that honed their operational planning skills.
The Multi-Domain Warfare Officer career field was created in line with the chief of staff of the Air Force's vision to develop dedicated operational-level command and control, or C2, experts responsible for integrating joint and coalition capabilities across multiple warfighting domains.
The students represent a variety of AFSCs from multiple U.S. Air Force major commands, geographic combatant commands, and functional commands. In addition to U.S. Air Force active-duty officers, nine class members represent the U.S. Space Force, Air Reserve Component and Air National Guard units from New York, Virginia, Michigan and Illinois.
The course, now in its fifth iteration, has evolved with every class to ensure leading-edge training that focuses on preparing the students to lead the operational planning efforts in a complex and uncertain global environment.
The course’s focus areas include the Air Operations Center, Air Force Forces staff, joint planning process for air, joint air targeting cycle, Agile Combat Employment, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, information operations, non-kinetic operations, and seminars with each joint and functional component.
“These academics lead into simulated scenarios across a span of different major operation types in which each student is put into a team that completes multiple repetitions of planning process cycles,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Griffith, 705th Training Squadron weapons and tactics director, Hurlburt Field. “Along the way, the plans must be approved by the C/JFACC [combined joint force air component commander] and involves planning across Air Force and joint entities.”
Class 21B also represents a number of firsts in its graduating class. The first joint partner, U.S. Army Capt. Craig Simmons, represented the Michigan Army National Guard.
“The expertise and partnerships with joint forces are critical to mission success when providing holistic approaches to operational planning for air component commanders,” said USAF Maj. Mark Scott, 705th TRS Thirteen Oscar course director. “The attendance of the first joint student was invaluable in providing our air component planners a different perspective to ensure operational-level planning is not only synchronized but integrated across all components.”
Scott said the 705th Training Squadron "continues to work with joint, coalition, and total force partners to expand the reach and impact of 13Os in the field.”
Another first for class 21B was the graduation of a non-AFSC awarded student, USAF Capt. John Fernandez.
“In order to bridge the operational planning knowledge gaps across the Air Force, the door is being opened wider to allow for Air Force officers to retain previously held AFSCs while still getting the full training complement of all-domain and joint operational planning,” said USAF Lt. Col. Ernie Chen, 705th TRS operational warfare flight director. “These students will be able to provide valuable operational insight to their tactical units and will be well prepared for future operational C2 assignments.
“The overall goal of allowing the non-AFSC path graduate is to generate a greater knowledge of all-domain thinking Airmen and widen the pool of operational planners available for air component commanders while still maintaining tactical expertise,” Chen said.
Another method designed to provide operational planning experience and operators for air component commanders is the Multi-Domain Warfare Officer Instructor Upgrade Training course.
Four air/space component staffs sent their 13Os to the IUT course to be trained on how to instruct operational planning at their current and future duty assignments. These IUT students also become versed in operational level debrief, with the intent to grow the culture of debrief within the AOCs, resulting in increased feedback and continual improvement from planning through execution.
“We [705th TRS] can only produce 50-60 13Os per year. The handful of 13O instructors will act as a force multiplier within the operations centers and staffs. These graduates will be able to raise the performance of their teammates by providing top-notch operational C2 OJT [on-the-job training] and instilling a culture of debrief at the operational level. These instructors provide a bridge in operational planning TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures] for current operational C2 planners, a mechanism to maintain standards, and increases the overall number of personnel ready to plan all-domain operations for air component commanders,” said USAF Lt. Col. Benjamin Lee, 705th TRS director of operations.
The diversity of backgrounds represented in both the initial skills and instructor upgrade training is one of its main strengths in delivering operational planning and execution experts to air component commanders across the globe.
“In conversations with air component and functional component commanders throughout the Air Force, the unique skills and diverse backgrounds of the 13Os we are producing are providing critical expertise in complex joint planning environments,” said USAF Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander. “That also brings a huge demand signal for even more well-versed operational planners, which we will answer with our next round of Thirteen Oscar classes, joint partner graduates and non-AFSC awarded graduates to bring unique perspectives to component commanders.”
The newly graduated officers will fill critical C2 billets in AOCs, air operations groups, air support squadrons, training squadrons, and other air component staffs across the USAF as well as the National Space Defense Center and USSF.
In each class, there are students whose performance warrants special recognition. The distinguished graduates for class 21B were USAF Maj. Holen Matthews and Illinois Air National Guard Capt. Daniel Wallace. USAF Capt. Ryan Oweida was awarded the Academic Ace Award for the highest academic average in the class.
The Odysseus Leadership Award, based on a combination of academic performance and excellence in leadership, followership and overall contributions through the entire course, was awarded to USAF Maj. Holen Matthews.
The next Multi-Domain Warfare Officer Initial Skills Training class begins in January.