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March Commander's Corner

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Chris Gamble
  • 169th Maintenance Squadron

This month is no different than any other month here at McEntire. The Mission Support Group is preparing the Maintenance and Operations Groups for a temporary duty to participate in Combat Hammer and Combat Archer. People not familiar with Combat Hammer and Combat Archer probably wonder what those terms mean and exactly what is involved with this exercise. Combat Hammer and Combat Archer are part of a Weapon System Evaluation Program (WSEP). Combat Hammer is Air to Ground; whereas, Combat Archer is Air to Air. Here is an abbreviated summary of the information that was sent to us regarding the program:


The last thing combatant commanders need to find out in combat is that their expectations for collateral damage were wrong. A history with lessons learned to the contrary led the Air Combat Command commander to charter COMBAT ARCHER and COMBAT HAMMER to ensure effectiveness on the first combat sortie and every combat sortie after that one. That charter, the Weapon System Evaluation Program, fuses the test and operational worlds into one mission that continuously baselines expectations of weapons performance throughout their lifecycle. The outcome of WSEP is the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) we train with and the doctrine that we go to war with-and if the TTPs and doctrine are not right, we’re in trouble.


WSEP’s mission continuously evolves to meet the demands of evaluating the Air Force’s arsenal while growing into a world-class training opportunity for Combat Air Forces (CAF) Airmen. The scope of WSEP evaluations reach 5,000 Airmen, 400 aircraft and 700 weapons executing 5,000 fighter, bomber and unmanned aerial vehicle sorties a year. WSEP evaluates chains that start with a weapon in the bomb dump and extends through the instant the weapon detonates- fully evaluating the man, machine and weapon performance at each link of the chain. The knowledge acquired takes many forms-weaponeering tools, tech data, weapons fly-out models for cockpit controls/displays and data to fill theater-level studies and analysis models; enabling test data to enter a myriad of agencies at the same time. WSEP’s impact is felt in the acquisition community, the bomb dump, the Combined Air and Space Operations Center and the cockpit. 


Sooner than you would like to believe, the only opportunity to employ modern weapons will be during a WSEP deployment, driven partially by cost, but mainly by the huge safety footprint required for tactically relevant employment. It should come as no surprise that the tools required to safely employ and record weapons performance are all expensive, and all required to shift the risk of discovery from combat operations to peacetime. In the end, combat is the ultimate test, and finding faults in combat is the ultimate cost of not testing.


As you can see, this is very beneficial training for us in maintenance and for the pilots. There will be on average three to four other units participating, so I’m sure there will be a lot of cross talk among the units.


The next thing that is going on this month is the South Carolina National Guard Association’s annual conference in Charleston. If you are a member and have never been to a conference you are truly missing out. This is an opportunity to interact with people within the SCANG and our Army brothers. If you are not a member, I encourage you to join this professional organization. This particular organization is our political voice in Washington. Remember the stronger the membership, the stronger the vote. Just one of the many benefits of being a member is the scholarships. The scholarship money is available for you or one of your family members. If you would like more information, please ask your commander and they will steer you in the right direction.

Lastly, I want to thank you for all the great work and for making the SCANG not only an outstanding organization to be a part of, but the best unit in the Air National Guard and the United States Air Force.


Semper Primus!