505th TRS crucial component in air supremacy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Angela Shepherd
  • 1st SOW Public Affairs
While it might be easy to attribute the successes of past and present United States Air Force air campaigns to the Airmen who fly the planes, it would be a mistake to overlook a select group of men and women without whom the pilots would never receive a mission tasking. 

These Airmen work in air and space operations centers around the world. They plan, execute and assess aerospace operations during contingencies and conflicts. The 505th Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field plays a key role in preparing those Airmen for their job. 

AOCs are a fairly new concept that came about after retired Gen. John Jumper, former Air Force chief of staff, declared in 2000 that the AOC would be the new weapons system for executing the air war. Although the 505th Command and Control Wing has had a schoolhouse in operations since the 1980s, the 505th TRS was officially stood up in 2004 to specifically address the training need for the AOC.

"Our job at the training squadron is to take the Airmen who will be working in the AOC and teach them how to use the systems and processes they're going to need to do their mission in the field," said Lt. Col. Mark Douglas, 505th TRS commander. "Fortunately, I have a very talented staff of military, contractors and civilians to carry out this mission."

The 505th TRS focuses on taking their students from a tactical level to an operational one during the five-week initial qualification training course. The course teaches all five of the divisions found within an AOC: strategy; plans; combat operations; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and air mobility.

"We give students the ability to take their tactical expertise and apply it to that operational level," said Capt. Craig Barrington, 505th TRS Operations Flight commander. "So what we ultimately provide the AOCs are better trained students who think on a bigger scale with the ability to solve problems as they occur."

Over the course of a year, the 505th TRS teaches around 1,600 students from four different countries - the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Australia. These students also include U.S. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. 

"It's fantastic having our sister services and coalition partners training with us," Captain Barrington said. "The knowledge they give us about how they act and how their service thinks as well as the information we provide them helps us work together much more easily."

In today's environment, when hardly any one service or country goes it alone, it's easy to understand the benefit in pairing these branches and countries up with our Airmen.

"The joint and coalition presence in our classrooms is vital because we don't employ air power solely as the U.S. Air Force," Colonel Douglas said. "By bringing these partners in, we're able to make sure all of our students are used to working as a team in training. Then it becomes natural in the field."

Once trained, these Airmen are scattered around the world. Each geographic and functional combatant commander has an AOC that is responsible for all aerospace operations within their assigned area.

"The 505th TRS is going to have an impact on the Air Force for years to come," Colonel Douglas said. "We know that unless we build people capable of working at the operational level, we're not going to be truly effective as an Air Force. So we are building the initial wave of Air Force AOC professionals, and I'm honored to be a part of it."

Watch the video about the 505th TRS