ARLINGTON, Va. – Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visited students, instructors and support personnel from the 325th Weapons Squadron taking part in graduation week at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas June 1.
After witnessing how the weapons school prepares Airmen to combat the greatest threats to national security, Hokanson came away impressed.
“It was fascinating to see. They integrate all aspects of air power and also integrate the total and joint force in their operations,” said Hokanson. “Active-Duty Airmen or Guardsmen, you can’t tell the difference. When we get asked to do a mission, we all do it together, and we all do it the same way. It’s seamless – and that’s the way it was intended.”
Ensuring those intentions are met is what Lt. Col. Steven Eldien, the 325th WPS’s director of operations, takes seriously.
“The 325th Weapons Squadron mission is to ‘Build, Teach, Lead,’ ” Eldien said. “We build the Air Force’s future weapons officers by teaching them how to expertly instruct others in the B-2 community and lead the Combat Air Force as the Air Force warfighting experts.”
The 325th WPS operates as a geographically separated unit out of Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base. It also receives support from the Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing and the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing.
“The 325th Weapons Squadron is a premier example of the Total Force working together to accomplish one mission: to train the next generation of B-2 weapons officers,” said Col. Luke Jayne, 131st Operations Group commander. “Both the active-duty and Air National Guard work hand-in-hand to support the Weapons Squadron with manning, B-2 Spirit aircraft, flight hours and a myriad of other support.”
At the school, Hokanson viewed every phase of the 325th WPS mission while witnessing the Total Force working in tandem.
Currently, there are five instructors at the 325th WPS, with one an ANG pilot qualified to serve as an instructor. Two of the current active-duty instructors are to join the ANG by the end of the year. On average, the 325th WPS graduates three weapons officers every six months.
“The active-duty and Air National Guard both have their benefits,” Jayne said. “The active-duty has a high turnover rate, so new folks are always coming in with fresh ideas on ways to improve. On the other hand, the Air National Guard brings a high level of experience based on our longevity executing the mission.”
In addition to watching Total Force Integration in action, the visit offered Hokanson insight into the daily operations of the 325th Weapons Squadron.
“Having the chief of the National Guard Bureau come out and sit in on the briefs, the planning and the execution gave him perspective into the magnitude and caliber of training taking place at the 325th Weapons Squadron,” said Eldien. “His visit was a huge morale boost to the team and really reminded everyone how important our mission is to national security.”
Hokanson’s primary focus was to meet with 325th Airmen at every level, learn their responsibilities, and thank them for safeguarding American freedom.
“A lot of times, we focus on the pilots, but we cannot forget the people who maintain those aircraft, the operations team, the SERE teams, all the instructors – everybody behind that aircraft taking off,” said Hokanson. “Their importance is something we just cannot overlook.”