LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The 19th Airlift Wing hosted a C-130J Super Hercules Virtual Weapons System Council, Jan. 25, bringing together a team of experts from across the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves – including seven bases spanning 18 different time zones.
Chaired by 19th Airlift Wing commander, Col. John Schutte, the council provided an opportunity for the C-130J community to make enterprise-wide decisions.
“The sun never sets on Herk Nation,” said Schutte. “Due to COVID-19, we convened this meeting of the Weapon System Council in a hybrid virtual and in-person format to allow senior leaders across the enterprise to synchronize our efforts to accelerate change, vigorously pursue Full Spectrum Readiness, and maximally develop the force.”
Senior leaders from the 317th AW at Dyess AFB, Texas traveled to participate at LRAFB alongside their counterparts from the 19th AW and the 314th AW.
Virtual participants included the 86th AW from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the 374th AW from Yokota AB, Japan, the 403rd Wing from Keesler AFB, Mississippi, the 143rd AW from Quonset Point ANG Base, Rhode Island, and the 146th AW from Channel Islands ANG Station, California.
“The C-130J mission set is the most diverse mission set in the Mobility Air Forces,” said Lt. Col. Marty Smith, 86th Operations Group deputy commander at Ramstein AB. “The tactical airlift mission in each area of responsibility (AOR) presents varied operational challenges, tasks and missions.”
Council discussions covered a variety of topics, to include each wing’s individual readiness, operational experimentation focuses on advancing warfighting capabilities, Block 8.1 conversion plans, loadmaster development and the future of aircrew training.
“All C-130J aircrew train to identical readiness requirements to meet the diverse mission set,” Smith added. “However, the operating environment differs from AOR to AOR. The cross-talk and topical briefs accomplished at the WSC better prepare our leadership and crews to rapidly deploy and operate in environments they don’t find themselves in on a daily basis while in their assigned AOR.”
The Council also provided an opportunity to further long-standing peer relationships and foster better understanding across the C-130J enterprise as it prepares for the future high-end fight.
“What this event really does is bring the C-130 community together,” said Col. Kevin Martin, 374th OG commander at Yokota AB. “It allows us to share our best practices and lessons learned so that we can be better tactical airlifters and Airmen, for both the joint force and our international partners.”
Schutte said that Herk Nation continues to lead the way in providing rapid global mobility and agile combat airlift because of catalysts like the C-130J Weapon System Council.
“This meeting of the Council sets the bar as the virtual standard moving forward,” said Schutte. “I am humbled to serve alongside such outstanding combat airlifters as we work together to keep the C-130J enterprise at the leading edge of operational excellence.”