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325th ACS to remain under AETC

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 325th Air Control Squadron is scheduled to be the only squadron within Tyndall's 325th Fighter Wing to remain under Air Education and Training Command after the wing transitions to Air Combat Command.

"We are staying with the current command because we are an initial skills training course and that falls under the mission of AETC," said Lt. Col. Gary Smith, 325th ACS commander.

Not only will the squadron remain AETC, but they will also receive a not-so new number designation.

"We will become the 337th Air Control Squadron," Colonel Smith said. "There is some history there. For a very short period back in the early 1990s, April 1994 to September 1994 to be precise, we carried the 337th designation. The early '90s was a big period of transition. We were eventually incorporated into the 325th FW."

Colonel Smith was a student at the schoolhouse during those changes and now commander and will be present to see the squadron return to the 337th designation.

"The 337th used to be TRS -- training squadron -- and now it is going to be an ACS -- Air Control Squadron," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Palmer, 325th ACS NCO in charge of the international flight. "So the number will be as before, but the name is different."

The mission of the ACS also has history, dating to the late 1940s when Tyndall was first founded as an Air Force installation.

"Since 1948, this mission has been at Tyndall," said Colonel Smith. "It is the oldest heritage on Tyndall for training."

The mission of the squadron is simply to train commissioned officers in air battle management.

"We train all undergraduate initial skills air battle managers for the Air Force," said Colonel Smith. "We have a war time air traffic control mission. But, a lot of what we do is ensuring that information is passed onto the battlefield, specifically to all the other aircraft that are out there. We coordinate to make sure that we have all of the right capabilities to go into a strike mission, and when a ground unit calls up and needs close air support, we are there for direction."

The squadron graduates around 150 students a year, with a course length of nine months.

"We teach approximately 16 classes a year," Colonel Smith said. "We start one every three weeks and graduate one every three weeks and each class has between six and ten students."

In addition to the 120 to 130 students currently in training, there are also around 70 enlisted Airmen, 45 officers and eight civilians housed in the squadron. Once the 325th FW transitions to ACC, those individuals will become part of the tenant unit.

"You are not going to be able to see a strong difference, with the change, except in our leadership," said Colonel Smith. "Our new wing will be the 33rd Fighter Wing and our new group will be the 33rd Operations Group, both from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla."

The squadron will not lose or gain personnel with the switch and the operations tempo will remain the same.

The 337th ACS reactivation ceremony is scheduled two days after the 325th FW's transition ceremony to ACC.

"We began working on this about two months ago," said Capt. Jason Muller, 325th ACS closed control flight commander. "We have had to coordinate with the new group command out at Eglin and with the wing protocol both here and there. The ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 3, 1:37 p.m., in our auditorium here in the building. The presiding officer will be U.S. Navy Capt. Michael R. Saunders, 33rd Operations Group commander."

The ceremony will feature an official ferruling and storing of the 325th ACS's current guideon and the presentation of the 337th ACS's new guideon.

Directly following the ceremony, the first class of the fiscal year and the 337th ACS will graduate.